Mike Shevdon's Reviews > The Alchemist of Souls

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle
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Mar 14, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy
Read in November, 2011

I must confess up front that Anne is a friend and a fellow Angry Robot author so I can't claim to be unbiased in this review. While it's not unbiased, it is honest. It's also slightly early - the book isn't out yet, but it will be soon, hence the review.

I was given the opportunity to read The Alchemist of Souls as a preview, which I grasped with both hands. Even so, it's a hard book to classify. It stands on its own merits as a historical novel and the rich texture of the world is easily and naturally conveyed. It's not our history, though. It's like our history, and it has a familiarity which makes assumptions tempting, but the wildcard are the Skraylings, a race of creatures encountered in the expanding Elizabethan empire and an entirely uncanny lot. The nature of the Skraylings is central to the plot and adds a magical texture to an already colourful novel.

It's also a character novel, with complex motives and people that you want to know more about. In all aspects, the author does not fall into the trap of telling us too much, which only serves to leave us wanting more. It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, and I had to get to the end to find out how all the threads would pull together. I don't do spoilers (as you know, if you follow my reviews) but the ending is satisfying and suitably climactic.

The setting is rich, and as someone who knows a little about English history, and London in particular, I found it atmospheric and convincing. This is a book that made me want time-travel so I could visit Elizabethan London for myself - especially if I could visit the alternative London with Skraylings in it.

In short, I will be reading the next one. Recommended.

The Alchemist of Souls is published by Angry Robot Books and is available from 27th March 2012.



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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new)

Anne Lyle Thanks, mate! Maybe you should paste your blurb in as a review *lol*


Mike Shevdon You're welcome, it's fine book :-)


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