So very impressive. I loved this one. It's creepy and unpredictable and poignant and relevant and all the wonderful things. I will keep an eye on Cat...moreSo very impressive. I loved this one. It's creepy and unpredictable and poignant and relevant and all the wonderful things. I will keep an eye on Cat Winters and am eager to see where she applies her talent next.(less)
Short but sweet, The Alchemy of Forever is deceptively simple and remarkably engaging. The plot may no...moreRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Short but sweet, The Alchemy of Forever is deceptively simple and remarkably engaging. The plot may not be entirely the most original, nor the writing the most striking, though it certainly has its moments of sparkle, but this was an unputdownable read. Finished in under three hours, my first experience with the series of the Incarnates was like the perfect sugary snack between actual meals: filling while eating and left no feelings of guilt or shame when I was finished. With both a great title and a new spin on teen immortality that isn't vampires or even vampire-adjacent in its immediate favor, I obviously found The Alchemy of Forever to be a very entertaining novel.
Seraphina and her story are instantly energetic; her story begins on a night of death but it is far from the end of Sera's existence. Alchemy, an ancient (and real) fruitless search for gold/youth and immortality among others, is successful in this alternative world of Williams's imagining, and wonderfully so. In this fantastical London, science and magic are indistinguishable, and fit in wonderfully with Sera's tale of escape and redemption. Sera and Cyrus have a core, selected group with which they share fellowship: Charlotte, Sera's BFF for 200 years; Jared, a pirate from the 1660's and a sort of enforcer for Cyrus; Sebastien, a reticent and largely unseen and mysterious member of the coven; and lastly, Amelia, an icy blonde that seems to harbor ill will toward both Charlotte and Sera. With each member needing a new body roughly every ten years, this is a group with many ghosts in the closet, though only Seraphina is shown to have any remorse for the killing left in their wake. While this seems to be set in an alternative world to ours, different only in the successful alchemy, I thought I caught a reference to Bram Stoker's Dracula - a dog named Harker that doesn't seem to take to Kailey/Sera... As I've mentioned I find the Incarnates condition and modus operandi (stalking/killing victim to replenish own lifeforce) and vampires to be very similar, I wonder if it is an intentional mention. There's not enough evidence to be sure yet, but I will be on the lookout for more clues/conspiracies in the sequel.
By virtue of becoming 'Incarnates' aka basically "body snatchers" with original souls in tact with her first love Cyrus, Sera endures centuries of life - but not real love, nor true happiness despite all the exotic experiences had and places she has been. Cyrus emerges as controlling, insane, volatile type of man - but happily, instead of mistaking this psychotic behavior as the danger it is and not misconstruing it as love, Sera attempts to free herself from his clutches. Even the act of hiding petty change gives her a thrill, to "have something that was mine." From the moment I realized Sera's plans, I liked her. For the first time in centuries, Sera dares to make her own decisions, dare to dream for herself instead of fearing what Cyrus will do to her as punishment. Her naivete at 14 haunts her for the most part of her endless centuries of life, and her maturation from selfish, thoughtless girl into an actual woman takes longer than eighteen years. Sera is a very introspective woman, as can be expected from someone downtrodden and controlled for so long, and that means much of this book is not action. As I adjusted to Sera and her style, I appreciated more the inwards-bent of her thinking - this is another of those characters that sneak up in your affections.
The Alchemy of Forever is a very engaging if all too brief, novel both in terms of character, and the unique, entirely welcome new spin on immortality. But this is also slightly disquieting book. The notion of "body snatching" is itself pretty creepy - the actual person is dead but the shell remains, with another inside, unbeknownst to anyone else. How is that not the height of creepitude? There are no less than three movies since 1945 devoted to just how horrific this concept is to us. Sera herself seems very aware of this, commenting internally and often that "the daughter they knew was dead and they had no idea" in several different reiterations, with just Sera wearing her skin around them. And the fact that there is an entire coven of immortal-body-snatching-murderers-with-permanent-wanderlust out there adds another level of menace to the novel it otherwise lacks. Cyrus certainly makes for an adequate villain and foil for Sera - more than adequate when he's actually present on the page instead of a ghost or memory- but the threat of him doesn't inspire as much tension as it could otherwise.
While I can't say the "relationship" between Sera/Kailey and Noah the black-haired neighbor-boy with a heart of gold smacks of the long-sought-after and advertised "true love" from above, there is a clear chemistry and sweetness between the two. I think I found Noah a bit too wide-eyed and perfect to entirely believe in him - or his continued attraction to Kailey after it emerges how shoddily she treated him for years - but overall I liked his character and could see the appeal even if I stood outside of it. From what is alluded to about Kailey pre-Sera she seems like a hard-to-like girl as well, so I wonder why Noah didn't remark upon the abrupt and 180 degree attitude changes that "Kailey" experienced in the novel...? I also wonder at how this thing between the two will develop - how will Sera reconcile Noah to the fact that the Kailey he knew is gone but the "Kailey" he loves is an immortal murderess hundreds of years older than himself? But while I found the 'love' between the 'teens' to be somewhat lacking, the home relationship and dynamic of the Morgans is refreshing and warm, and real. They present a stark and very bleak comparison to the 'love and family' that Sera has known for centuries with the coven, and it's nice to read a non dysfunctional family once in a while.
The ending is abrupt, let's just say that. It comes to a screaming and ominous cliffhanger right at the very moment you most wish to keep reading. While I can understand the cutoff as an incentive to read the next novel it left me somewhat dissatisfied with this first in the series. Unfortunately, many, many threads are left wide-open after that bastard of a cliffhanger for an ending and no main conflict is resolved - the book just ends. What happened to the magical book Sera had the night she switched bodies? What happened to Taryn, who might know all of Sera's secrets? What was Kailey doing the night she died? The questions are endless and enough to ensure, above all doubt and frustration with this finale, I will be continuing this series. (less)
I liked this better than the first, but Aria is still a wash for me. Perry is better, and Roar is the best of them all. I will keep reading; Rossi...more3.5
I liked this better than the first, but Aria is still a wash for me. Perry is better, and Roar is the best of them all. I will keep reading; Rossi continues to learn and grow as a writer but I do not love this series the way others do.(less)
The final fifty pages of this book had me contradictorily unwilling to finish and anxious for resolution to several characters I was invested in. The...moreThe final fifty pages of this book had me contradictorily unwilling to finish and anxious for resolution to several characters I was invested in. The Wicked and the Just is a very character-driven novel, but thankfully, both Cecily and Gwenhwyfar are both more than capable of bearing the weight of this 350 page novel. Though this is in the mid-300's, this reads both easily and quickly due to the complimentary and contrasting natures of both main character's narratives. Full review to follow but a rewarding read. (less)
That was so much fun! I half-expected one of the twists (view spoiler)[ aka the necromancer was Elijah (hide spoiler)], but was not anticipating the r...moreThat was so much fun! I half-expected one of the twists (view spoiler)[ aka the necromancer was Elijah (hide spoiler)], but was not anticipating the reveal about the evil spirit. Fun, vastly entertaining with great characters and new interpretations of steampunk and zombies add up to a fast, engrossing read. Eleanor is clever, determined, funny, and engaging and I loved her interactions with the grumpy and brilliant Daniel (view spoiler)[even if he doesn't love her! *sobs* (hide spoiler)]. In fact, the ending was totally unforeseen and completely shocking (view spoiler)[HER HAND! (hide spoiler)], which made me love the risks Dennard took even more. A very rewarding read.(less)
I'm not quite sure what to rate this one; it will most likely end up in the 3 - 3.5 region, i.e. good but could have been better. I liked it, sure, bu...moreI'm not quite sure what to rate this one; it will most likely end up in the 3 - 3.5 region, i.e. good but could have been better. I liked it, sure, but here wasn't a whole lot to any of these twenty-three short, sometimes almost verse stories. While this is both an interesting and often quite strange collection of retellings of classic fairy tales/myths/legends, I found that the short style hampered my overall enjoyment of the tales. I did very much enjoy the varied differences and updates that Koertge implanted within these well-known stories (Red Riding Hood's very modern-teenage use of "..and then, like, we went to, like..." both reminded me of Clueless and my neighbor - both a good and bad thing ha). While this was read in less than an hour, Ron Koertge's collection of stories provided an excellent escape for a short period. This is a blunt read: each story is a quick and often dirty look told in Koertge's blunt but easily readable style. Don't look for any easy Happily Ever Afters here in this realm of twisted faery tales.
I liked the new perspectives and modern spins placed on old fairy tales, instead of rehashing just the same old story. I thought it provided a fresh look at beloved and memorized stories and added a dark humor all the authors own, like with story of Thumbelina: seeing it through the Mole's eyes instead of just the title character, or the five-POV tale of Rapunzel showing a multi-faceted situaion or reading Cinderella but in the stepsisters voice and eyes. Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses is a quick but vastly, often quite darkly, entertaining read. I think a little length padded on to each of these stories would've yielded a more finely tuned and outstanding work, but as it is, this is a macabre and creatively fun read. (less)
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first,...more Wow.
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first, with its blue-haired, quirky protagonist and it's legions of monsters and angels, but this one is better.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a far cry from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but it s a deeply magical and thoroughly unique, beautifully written piece of art.
That was a lot of fun. That was creepy. That was deftly plotted. A page turner. A novel that had echoes of I Am Not a Serial Killer but managed to avo...moreThat was a lot of fun. That was creepy. That was deftly plotted. A page turner. A novel that had echoes of I Am Not a Serial Killer but managed to avoid a massive, awful plot twist like that one sadly had. This reminded me of Dexter from back when that show managed to shock and impress me (The Trinity Killer will never be topped as a bigbad).
I need book two, like, yesterday. GIMME.
Also: Howie is the best sidekick ever. And I love sassy Connie. Woo! Well done, Mr. Lyga!(less)
On A Dark Wing is obviously eye-catching and interesting novel, just judging by looks alone: from the vaguely foreboding tone of the title...more2.5 out of 5
On A Dark Wing is obviously eye-catching and interesting novel, just judging by looks alone: from the vaguely foreboding tone of the title itself to the scattered murder of ravens across the letters of the title, and the ominious, "Death never forgets. . . " ominously taglined in front of the Grim Reaper, this is a hard to miss title. It's a readable book that veers from normal to supernatural to creepy thriller almost: one thing that can be honestly said about On A Dark Wing is that it is never predictable. This is the story of a girl named Abbey, yes like Abbey Road of Beatles fame, her obsessive crush, her mom, a paralyzed but lovable hacker and Death. Yes, Death with a capital "D" - the Man himself appears and is the crux around which the rest of the book - and characters - must revolve.
Abbey is from Palmer, Alaska. It's immediately clear that miss Chandler is fairly damaged goods: her guilt and issues over her mom's death is immediate and obvious from the get-go. I had to shave off rating points for such a heavy-handed introduction: I like when the author eases the problems in so it's not overwhelming every page. She's also constantly around death: her dad runs a crematorium so death and dying are more personal and familiar to Abbey than most people. By page thirty, Abbey has begun obsessively regaling the reader with her obsession with a boy named Nate. From the way Abbey talks and acts, it's obvious her feelings veer into stalker territory: she plans openly, without any kind of embarrassment, to radio-eavesspydrop on a trip of Nate's that he doesn't even know she knows he is going on, not to mention the tiny fact that Nate has no idea who Abbey is. It's fairly uncomfortable to read Abbey waxing lyrical over a guy who literally couldn't pick her out of a line-up. I mean saving, "Nate, give me strength" when in a bad situation? Just.. what? Who does that? I certainly wanted to like Abbey - I definitely came closer the closer to the end that I got in the book and she grows up quite a bit- but her stalker tendencies, coupled with her piss-poor treatment of her father made it nearly impossible for much of the novel.
Other than Abbey, there is of course, Nate himself. I felt no real connection with Nate as an individual character, nor is it apparent for a while why we are supposed to care about a random boy going on a trip for the first few chapters. Nate is far too generic, too perfect for me to really buy into: I want a flawed man over a too-good-to-be-true archetype any day. His plot-line, though I liked how it intersected with Abbey's eventually, just failed to garner my interest from the start. Even his scenes on Denali failed to catch my eye - they were too bland and encompassing to create much emotion. I was much more interested in the paralyzed, funny and smart Tanner Lange than Nate. He is a much more flawed, real character than Nate, and carried the pages he appeared upon. Even when I found his cooperation with Abbey's stalker plans to be bemusing, I liked him immensely. He doesn't rag on Abbey for substituting food for love, he doesn't constantly rehash her guilt over her mother, he's just a best friend: supportive, loving, kind, there when he is needed the most.