Petra Dee is a woman running from the past and all the memories that haunt her dreams. She seeks distraction in the form of sMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Petra Dee is a woman running from the past and all the memories that haunt her dreams. She seeks distraction in the form of small-town Temperance, Wyoming where her father was last heard of years past and she intends on searching for him. This small-town is far from ordinary and she quickly realizes that law enforcement has no hold on the town but instead local land owner Sal Rutherford seems to be the one in control. There’s another powerful man that goes by the name of The Alchemist who seems to aid in the areas drug habit. Petra quickly ends up right in the dangerous path of both Sal and The Alchemist when she uncovers a magical artifact that is somehow tied to both men and the mysterious story behind the origins of this mysterious small-town.
Alchemy is the reason surrounding this strange towns existence and involves a mysterious figure by the name of Lascaris that during the Gold Rush, as rumor has it, figured out how to transform simple rocks into gold. His experiments were conducted in secret and he was never questioned since he was the sole reason the town was thriving, so why question anything when it’s working so well? After his supposed death in a mysterious fire, new figures rose in hope to take his place. Sal Rutherford, who currently owns the land where The Lunaria, the Alchemical Tree of Life, resides (in addition to the undead ranch hands that call themselves The Hanged Men) and Stroud/The Alchemist, a man that can trace his lineage back to Lascaris himself. The aspects of alchemy were explained sufficiently and incorporated well into the story, however, as the story drew to a close it lacked a necessary conviction when it came time for solid answers.
This one generated a lot of discussion for me when all was said and done and there is much to love but also much that left me in confusion. First and foremost, Sig the coyote, Petra’s “animal familiar” was the true highlight of this story for me. Sig possessed more personality than some of the side characters without having to say a single word. He was her first ally in Temperance and he quickly took to her and became her self-appointed guardian before she even knew she needed help. He became incredibly docile by the end and as much as I loved his addition to the story it did seem incredibly unlikely. Still, this story would not have been the same without Sig. There were many other additional loose ends that I felt should have been addressed, most are spoilery so I’ll avoid going into detail. Whether this is because the author wanted to leave some things in the ‘unknown’ so as to maybe turn the story into a series I’m not sure but this being the start of a new series seems like a definite possibility.
Possessing an interesting blend of mystery and magic, Dark Alchemy is an eerie and most inventive tale that kept me completely spellbound.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘All of this story, remember, is based on the completely unacceptable and ludicrous premise of an evil talking cat called RoMy rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
‘All of this story, remember, is based on the completely unacceptable and ludicrous premise of an evil talking cat called Roger that traveled romantically in the footsteps of Lord Byron in the 1930s and now solves cryptic crosswords torn out daily from the Telegraph.’
I’m all about dark humor (and if we’re being completely honest, anything involving cats) so when I read numerous reviews describing this novel as such, I jumped on the chance to read it. Sad to say, the ‘humor’ of this completely escaped me. Remember that horrible cheese-fest of a movie Cats & Dogs about a top secret war going on between, well, Cats & Dogs? The cats were all evil bastards trying to take over the world and man’s best friend was trying to foil their plans. So basically, just replace dogs with humans and you’ve got the plot of this story.
Our narrator, Alec, is a librarian who is mourning the sudden loss of his wife, Mary. Alec immerses himself in a collection of documents consisting of audio transcripts, e-mails and photographs describing the story of a man called “Wiggy” who has just lost his sister. His story also includes the tale of a talking cat named Roger, a member of a satanic cult of immortal cats with a blood feud against humans. Roger begins to tell his life story to Wiggy, à la Interview with the Vampire.
‘”Why are cats so pissed off all the time? They get all the best seats in the house, they have food and warmth and affection. Everything is on their terms, not ours. They come and go as they please. Why aren’t they permanently ecstatic?” Well, now it’s explained. It’s because they’re conscious of having lost their ability to do serious evil, and they feel bloody humiliated.’
The included pop culture references with Roger having a voice like Vincent Price and is described as the feline equivalent of Stephen Fry (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and Alec’s dog Watson having a voice exactly like Daniel Craig, took this story even further into ridiculous territory. The fast-paced narrative, I had assumed was done in an attempt to recreate the sense of panic the characters were dealing with, came off as lazy and sloppy rather than thrilling and frenetic. But then we get to the end and we’re even told:
‘So that’s nearly the end, and I’d like to finish my account with an apology. Reading it all back, I realise that at times I have been a tad flippant in the way I have written this, and I have also told the story with what appears to be a lamentable lack of narrative organisation.’
So basically the author realized what a hot mess she just wrote and instead of going back and fixing it had her character apologize like it’s his fault. Well, whoever you want to blame, I still can’t accept it.
Maybe I took it all too seriously. Maybe I wouldn’t have if I would have known it was like LOLCats in novel form. And maybe there’s some hidden allegory I was supposed to uncover that would have allowed me the ‘a-ha!’ moment where it all makes sense. Unfortunately, that moment never came....more