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A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1)

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,644 Ratings  ·  397 Reviews

Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transfor
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published February 7th 2013 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2013)
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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a surprisingly fun debut, a wonderful blend of steampunk, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It’s perfect for fans of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series. The worldbuilding may be slightly inferior in comparison, but that’s only because Meljean Brook is the untouchable queen of the genre. Leisel Schwartz did not disappoint with her fabulously imaginative world full of alchemists, Nightwalkers, absint fairies and warlocks. The steampunk elements were great (gyrocopte ...more
Snuggles  with Rainbows
Oh how painful this book was. Sorry guys I’m too cranky to make this a long, and drawn out affair. So this will be a short and hopefully civil review.

Let’s cut to the chase, so here is the run down on all its shortcomings:

1. The main character is SO boring. She has no personality what so ever. The people around her were more fun than her. It would have been kind of nice if this was Ernest Hemingway doing his fly-on-the-wall story thing…but it’s not and this was lame at best.

2. The story was just
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
Okay, I give up.

I made a resolution this year to give each book that I begin a fair chance and read at least 50 pages before dropping it. I was literally counting the pages until I could put this book down. It isn't that this book was bad technically, per se, but it was incredibly boring. So boring that I had a hard time focusing and getting through the story. So boring that I cared not at all about any of the characters that we met. ::sigh::

It is such a shame because I had high hopes for this
Jan 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
This keeps happening to me lately. The blurb of a book sounds absolute genius, but the book itself falls far short of the mark. I’m the first to admit that the publishing world often baffles me, and I could be miles out here, but I’m assuming that the marketing wiz writes the blurb? Seems to me, more and more, that the blurb wizmasters should be the ones doing the writing.

In fairness, I’ve read a lot worse, but as a Steampunk fan who enjoys the likes of Carriger, Priest and KW Jeter, this really
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really sure what genre to classify this under. It has an urban fantasy feel, as well as some steampunk, along with paranormal (warlocks, fairies) plus a little mythology thrown in the mix! All are elements that I love, and I really liked the uniqueness of it!

The story is mostly adventure and action from start to finish. There isn't a lot of sitting around--Elle is in danger constantly of being kidnapped, while also trying to find her kidnapped father, and she also isn't sure who to trust
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
A dazzling debut novel that delicately interweaves past & present magnificently, creating something refreshingly original and exciting!

Cleverly crafted and indisputably exceptional this inspired novel astonished me, with its distinctiveness and imaginative vision. Entwining acute historical detail with elements of nineteenth-century gothic fiction, in addition to a classy contemporary twist makes this a most evocatively atmospheric work. Spectacular steampunk embellished with impassioned ro
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars. A fun steampunk debut novel.

I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued by all things steampunk. Having heard some great things about this debut author, I just had to read this book. I was drawn to the lovely cover – The Eiffel Tower, airships, strange runes – the book looked like it was full of win for me. I was not disappointed.

I adored the world created by this author. Set in both France and England at the turn of the 20th century, the story follows a young woman named El
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was desperate for a book that would let me escape from life for a while, and had downloaded this from NetGalley. It is a perfect blend of steampunk fantasy based in just enough historical detail that you can almost believe the faeries and nightwalkers, Alchemists and Oracles. The reader also gets to travel from Paris to Oxford to Vienna to Istanbul, so add this to the list of books I'll read this year that have a tie to Turkey!

The main character is Elle Chance, a female airship pilot in a time
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three and a half stars: A smart blend of steampunk, historical and paranormal.

Elle is anxious to board her airship and be on her way. Her friend Patrice corners her in the tea shop and asks her to transport a small box for him. He is tight lipped about the contents of the box. Her payment is a lovely diamond bracelet that Elle snaps on her wrist, only to find that the clasp won't undo. A small absinthe fairy, immediately flies into the bracelet and takes up residence inside the diamonds. Elle fi
Since A Conspiracy of Alchemists is Liesel Schwarz's debut novel I didn't know what to expect. The cover promised a lot of steampunk-ish goodness and that it will be set in Europe, Paris to be exact. I am glad to say that the book fulfilled all the promises and excited my expectations. It's rare to find a true steampunk novel these days. A lot of them seem like steampunk is added as an after-though to increase the sale - but that is not the case with A Conspiracy of Alchemists. This book is over ...more
Sarah Marie
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Scwarz

First in The Chronicle of Light and Shadow series

3 stars

Eleanor “Elle” Chance is a pilot and she finds herself in a world she never thought to be. The year is 1903 and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light, science is embraced and used to transform everyday life by harnessing magical energies to develop new technology. With each advance of science, the shadow- realm of the supernatural- loses a part of itself. The alchemist

Elle is not your average young lady, she isn't interested in ball gowns or finding the perfect husband and would much rather be independent. She loves to fly and ever since training as a dirigible pilot she has enjoyed travelling across Europe in the ship she is so proud of. When she is employed to carry a mysterious item from Paris back to London she suddenly finds herself caught up in a battle between the Alchemists and Warlocks. Both sides are determined to get hold of her cargo and they will ...more
☕ Kimberly
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get a little nervous when someone says a book offers a blend of genres as nine times out of ten one of those genres suffer and usually it’s the one I bought the book for. So it was with trepidation that I began reading A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz. My fears were quickly put to rest as I slipped into this delightful steampunk fantasy wrapped in paranormal and historical elements. I found I could not put this action packed tale down and quickly consumed it.

The tale takes place in
See this review and others like it at!

I was originally drawn to his book because of the stunning cover, but A Conspiracy of Alchemists proved to be a really fun start to this new steampunk series. Liesel Schwarz has created a novel filled with quirky and humorous characters. It seems like they could fill many more books with the troubles… I mean adventures… they are sure to find themselves in!

Eleanor “Elle” Chance was wonderful as the lead female character and I liked her i
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Steampunk as a genre itself has taken off like gangbusters and we have seen an influx of stories being published and not all of them good. However Steampunk author Liesel Schwarz has done a fantastic job with “The Conspiracy of Alchemists”. Keeping true to the genre this story is full of swashbuckling adventure, Intrigue, steam powered flying machines, myth and magic! What more could one ask for?

The story follows the spirited heroine Eleanor Chance, who is in a class all her own. Captain of her
Rating: 4.9

'When I was young and living among my people, the Dryad, I once had a different name. But that was many years ago, at a time when anise and wormwood were nothing more than plants that made up my world. A time before sacred dreams could be bought for a few sugar cubes.

I knew from the moment I saw her she would offer salvation. But salvation often comes at a price.'

Meet Eleanor “Elle” Chance - airship pilot and and daughter of the famous spark-reactor scientist.

Flying airships is a ri
Fangs for the Fantasy
Though society would much prefer that Eleanor Chance to remain docile, akin to all women of good breeding, Eleanor refuses to live such a confined life. Having turned her back on a making a good match at her debut, Eleanor now supports herself as a dirigible pilot transferring freight. Things were going well for Eleanor until Patrice, an acquaintance, arranged for Eleanor to fly a small package from France to England, much to the distress of Mr. Hugh Marsh. From the moment Hugh and Eleanor meet ...more
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz is another in a recent spate of alternate history steampunk fantasies. I have not been disappointed with these offerings.

Elle Chance, a pilot of an airship, raised by her famous inventor father, is swept up in the war between the light and the dark. Her father has been kidnapped by agents of the shadow. She wants him back. Of course, it is not chance that Chance is swept up in events, as she, unbeknownst to herself, has a magical birthright of immense
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-hardcopy
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Conspiracy of Alchemists is a refreshing change to the current spate of urban fantasy. As the first novel in what I hope will be a series, the readers are introduced to a unique world where steampunk and magic are mixed into a delightful universe. The heroine, Elle Chance, has a strength and vulnerability that I Iook forward to seeing develop as the character matures. I also enjoyed the way the major and minor suppor
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: Elle’s hidden gift is all that can keep the world in balance and running from her destiny could prove more dangerous than embarrassing who she really is.

Opening Sentence: This was the place where people came to give their souls to fairies.

The Review:

Schwarz has created an amazing universe in this book. The world is divided into Light and Shadow. Everything in the Light believes only in science and solid fact while the Shadow is made up of a
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
Francesca the Fierce (Under the Covers Book Blog)
3.5 Stars

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. I saw a huge posted at the Del Rey booth at Comic Con last year and immediately wanted to buy it, only to find out it wasn’t coming out until this year.

Could it be one of those cases where the cover misled me? Just a little. Even though the cover is very much representative of the story. And the story was very interesting. It just fell a little flat in some parts.

I’m a little confused as to how to classify the book to begin
Vincent Ripley
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
On a recent trip to Paris, I visited my favourite Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, situated in the breath-taking region of Notre Dame Cathedral. It was an especially welcomed visit on a particularly cold and rainy day. This was the first book that I selected fron the vast shelves of books. The cracking book cover first drew me in. However, it soon turned out to be a book that I particularly liked the sound of. Interestingly, the book begins in Paris in 1903 - that'sfate if you ask m ...more
A Conspiracy of Alchemists follows Elle Chance, female dirigible pilot in an alternate early 20th century. In this world, alchemists and warlocks subtly grapple for the limited magical power that remains. Vampires and alchemists are allies, and absinthe fairies are sustained only by alcohol, preferably absinthe. Light - technology, science, and reason - is echoed and opposed by Shadow, the magical forces and beings in the world.

The novel opens with a new commission for Elle, who is given a myste
Jenea Whittington
This is the first in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow series, and it was a great start to a new Urban Fantasy and Steampunk series. This starts off with an action packed beginning, and I knew I was in for something that was going to be interesting and something that I would not want to put down.
We first our two main characters, Eleanor (Elle) and Hugh Marsh (Marsh), when Elle arrives in Paris to meet a prospective client. She has been hired to carry a couple parcels to England. Elle is inquisi
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Genre* Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Steampunk
*Rating* 3.5

*My Thoughts*

A Conspiracy of Alchemists features Eleanor “Elle” Chance a dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure who just happens to have something of a predetermined destiny in becoming the next Oracle or Pythia. The world in which Schwartz creates is one that combines the elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance. The story is set in 1903 where the world itself is divided into two reigning factions: Light –
An enchanting read!

A Conspiracy of Alchemists really is a book that encompasses many genres: steampunk, historical fiction, romance, paranormal, fantasy, mystery, adventure... Where else can you find absinthe fairies, Alchemists, Warlocks, ancient goddesses, dirigibles, gyrocopters, Paris, Constantinople, The Shadow World, heartwarming romance and a good old-fashioned adventure?

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. I went solely on the title + cover, and the me
Lucie Paris
In view of the cover, I imagined a heroine with a temper due to the pistol by her side. A mystery adventure like "The Mummy" by Stephen Sommers with a touch of elegance and refinement. All these clues with nothing but a simple picture cover... Lucky me, my imagination is fertile!

After reading the synopsis, I thought that I had good nose or a great intuition. So, I embarked on a delightful adventure full of rhythm. From the first pages, I was not disappointed. There are intriguing characters, sus
Beth Cato
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance reader copy of this book through NetGalley.

I've been reading a lot of steampunk, and have been disappointed by a number of titles. Some of them think throwing in a few airships and goggles is all the genre needs. This one hits the steampunk vibe just right; it's dark, it utilizes the technology, and it features a smart and savvy heroine who struggles against the expectations of propriety for a woman in her time. It's set in the Belle Epoch, only a few years into the 20th ce
Disclaimer: Received from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This was a fun, well-paced steampunk fantasy romance! I thought it was a strong start to a new series that I will be snatching as soon as available. It starts off with intrigue and action and keeps it up throughout the book. I loved the absinthe fairies and the inner monologue of Adele as she travels with Elle on her adventure.

I've always liked Wonder Woman and the archetype of strong, self-efficient feminin
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Liesel Schwarz has an MA in creative writing and is currently completing her doctorate in English and creative writing at Brunel University.

A life-long fan of 19th Century Gothic literature, she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the Fin de siècle, and the correct way to drink absinthe. She also likes Medieval stuff, pirates, zombies, space operas a
More about Liesel Schwarz...

Other Books in the Series

The Chronicles of Light and Shadow (3 books)
  • A Clockwork Heart (The Chronicle of Light and Shadow, #2)
  • Sky Pirates (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow, #3)
“Of all the arrogant men in this world, you are possibly the worst.” 5 likes
“Their mouths met. The touch of his lips sparked an energy that plunged to the very depths of her. In that moment, she knew that this was the one kiss of her life. It was the touch of him she would remember forever. The kiss she would dream of when she was lonely. It was the kiss she would relive when she was alone. It would transcend the physical, the realms of Shadow and Light. All other kisses that followed, if there ever were any, would not compare.” 4 likes
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