Jaclyn's Reviews > A Conspiracy of Alchemists

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
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Jan 02, 13

bookshelves: adventure, arc, fae, historical, magic, net-galley, steampunk-gaslight, vampires, fantasy
Read from January 01 to 02, 2013

A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a steampunk novel. Elle Chance is a pilot and has come to Paris to transport some cargo via her regular contact, Patrice. The cargo turns out to be a mysterious box and it comes with a passenger, the irritating Mr. Marsh. Before she leaves Paris, Elle is attacked and rescued by Mr. Marsh leading them to race to England to evade the forces that have targeted Elle.

The world building in this novel was pretty interesting with fairies and other mythical creatures being commonplace in this alternate version of 1903. This magical society is divided into the Light and the Shadow, with the alchemists of the Shadow being the villains of the novel. The leader of the alchemists, Abercrombie, wants to unleash the power from an in-between plane through an Oracle in order to break all those of Shadow’s bond with the Nightwalkers (ie. vampires).

Unfortunately for Elle, her mother was the Oracle, and Elle is discovered to be the next one. Both sides of the struggle want to have Elle in their court since she will provide them great power with the dwindling of magic in the world. Marsh believes that Elle should join forces with the Council of Warlocks, which he is part of, where she will live a life of luxury and isolation. Elle, a modern girl for the times, is understandably irritated by Marsh and his suggestions and fights his assertions of her power at every point. However, Elle ultimately has to face the fact that her mother’s blood runs in her veins and she will have to acknowledge her power.

Overall, I liked the plot of A Conspiracy of Alchemists; it was an interesting concept in an interesting alternate world. I liked the combination of the Oracle mythology and the steampunk genre and it really demonstrates the versatility of steampunk as a genre. At times I found the pacing a little slow, especially considering there were pretty intense things happening. For example, when Elle learns her father has been kidnapped, it takes her a few days to start her search for him. I felt the pacing was at odds with what was happening in the novel.

My other issue with the novel was the insta-romance between Elle and Mr. Marsh. I liked each character individually but I didn’t buy the romance between them. They went from blatant antagonism to love fairly quickly. There was more about Elle’s thought process and her progression of feelings towards Mr. Marsh, but when it came to Marsh, I didn’t really buy his feelings for Elle; it seemed very sudden.

Lastly, I was a little confused about the whole Oracle thing. Is becoming an Oracle a hereditary trait; the fact that Elle’s mother was an Oracle seems to suggest that it is something inherited by from a parent? If being an Oracle is hereditary, then I do not know why the Council of Warlocks would be isolating the Oracle from everyone, wouldn’t the Oracle’s need to go out, marry and have kids? I just felt that this was a hole in the story and I think it should have been addressed.

Ultimately, I did enjoy the novel, and I would probably read the next one in the series because of the cliffhanger ending and the reveal about the true conspiracy. I think A Conspiracy of Alchemists would be a good book that could be read by an adult or teen audience. I wouldn’t blatantly call it a teen book, the age of the characters seem to suggest that it is not a teen book, but I think it has versatile appeal.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Stacey rargh. I forgot about the insta-love before publishing my review. I can't be bothered to go back, now...


Stacey P.S. I need to start my reviews before I lose the books!


Jaclyn LOL don't read reviews before you start the book. Every time I do, I never want to read the book.


Stacey No I mean, write the review before the book expires. Also, I had to go back and change it. It's like a hang-nail.


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