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The Accidental Alchemist

(An Accidental Alchemist Mystery #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,223 ratings  ·  611 reviews
A modern tale of ancient intrigue from a USA Today bestselling author

When Zoe Faust--herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon--begins unpacking her bags, she can't help but notice she's picked up a stow away: a living, breathing, three-and-half-foot gargoyle. Dorian Robert-Houdin is no simple automaton, nor is he a homunculus; in fact, he needs Zoe's
Paperback, 350 pages
Published January 8th 2015 by Midnight Ink (first published January 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  3,223 ratings  ·  611 reviews

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Erica Ravenclaw

Some *small* marked spoilers and colorful language abound! I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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My dislike for this book is palpable. DNF at 55%. I don't always rate books I don't finish, however I made it more than halfway through and it never got better.

OK. Here is the skinny. We have Zoe, a 300 year old begrudging alchemist who has just moved to Portland in hopes of finding her way back to who she once was. Sounds amazing. Too bad it's actually a gr
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of light UF

Look at that cover! Is that not striking? I tend to be a fan of block printing, so when I was perusing NetGalley, it caught my eye. I checked out the description and thought alchemy, herbs, a gargoyle and Portland sounded like an interesting combination and worth my time.

Your results may vary, based on how much time is available.

After years of wandering the country in her Airstream trailer, Zoe Faust is looking forward to rehabilitating her new home in Portland, Oregon. Her plan for anonymity ta
[Name Redacted]
What It Claims To Be: An urban-fantasy/paranormal mystery about a 300+ year-old alchemist living in Portland who makes the acquaintance of a living gargoyle and must help decipher an obscure and mysterious manuscript to save his life -- all while solving a murder mystery!

What It Actually Is: Heavy-handed American-Vegan propaganda/food-porn. With a 21st-century-hippie's understanding of alchemy and a dull romantic subplot involving (as always) a hunky male cop. Oh, and, like, two people die or so
Sadie Forsythe
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'll admit that the writing in this book is generally readable and, even though I had an ARC, the editing wasn't worth comment. The problem was that I was simply bored throughout the whole thing...that and I became increasingly annoyed with the food references.

Because I can't be bothered to give the book any more of my time by counting myself, I'm going to quote another reviewer here. "I did a quick word count and the "cook/ed/ing" was mentioned 79 times. SEVENTY-NINE-BRAIN-NUMBING-TIMES." I'm n
Laura Snider
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was free through my audible subscription. It looked interesting & I thought I would love it. But, no, not really. I found it to be very meh.

I like the idea of alchemy and a living gargoyle, but I found that I didn’t like the main character much. She acted as though she was superior to everyone else while at the same time whining about her past. It was annoying.

Also, alchemy (at least to me) is better left as an abstract idea. There was so much alchemy talk in this book. Too much. I gre
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-rev, reviewed

2 stars

A long-lived alchemist in a new city gets caught up in strange doings when her shipped goods turn out to include a living gargoyle, her intended building contractor turns up dead outside her door, and a key book is stolen. She must race against time to save a friend's life.

The Czech language is not written in any variant of Cyrillic, and as far as I know never has been. In fact, a quick glance at Wikipedia will tell you that its interesting and regular Latin-based
Molly Mortensen
A nice little cozy mystery with a hint of romance.

I think if you like mysteries you’d enjoy this book, because although she thinks about her long past often, her magic isn’t a large feature of the book. Though what magic there was, was well done. (Of course I wanted more of it though.) I also liked that she was an alchemist, which hasn’t been done much.

The Good:

The best part of Accidental Alchemist was its characters, from the cooking gargoyle to the troubled teen who just wants to help his frie
2.5 stars

In the beginning, I thought this book had a VERY interesting premise. Zoe Faust, a 300+ year old alchemist is just about trying to settle down in Portland, Oregon, after wondering around for years. When she is about to unpack her things, she discovers a gargoyle inside one of her crates. The gargoyle, by the name of Dorian, is asking Zoe's help with an alchemy text to keep him alive since Dorian can feel he is turning back to stone. However, before Zoe can work on this, they are being i
Althea Ann
Aug 05, 2014 rated it liked it
A cozy mystery with a touch of magic.

Highly recommended for fans of both Kevin Hearne's 'Iron Druid Chronicles' and Nancy Atherton's 'Aunt Dimity' series.

This is my second book by Pandian, and I liked the other one (Pirate Vishnu) enough to seek this one out. I was expecting a quick, entertaining read with a positive feel to it, and in that, I was not disappointed.

Zoe Faust, itinerant herbalist and online antiquities dealer, has decided to settle down in Portland. Oh yes, Zoe is also someone who
A small town murder mystery mixed with a bit of fun, modern day fantasy. Zoe Foust, a retired Alchemist, is quietly trying to put down some roots after being transient for years while running from a broken heart. Following her purchase of a fixer upper in Oregon, she soon finds out that because of its long time vacancy the locals think that her old house is haunted. To complicate things further, within twenty-four hours of her arrival, the contractor she hired is found dead in her front yard and ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got an ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

1.5 stars. An interesting premise, but one I had trouble stayed focused on, and I just could never push myself to read more than a chapter or two before switching to something else.

The first chapters, with Dorian popping into Zoe's life, his predicament, the book that needed deciphering, hinted at a good modern fantasy story. Unfortunately, the mystery that followed was too flat, and took too long to properly unveil. It could hav
The urban fantasy field is a smorgasbord of different sub genres. A fan can read books about characters who are werewolves, vampire hunters, wizards, half human half demons, or shapeshifters. New authors are always entering the field, and the book covers are replete with vampire huntresses with armed with a sword or automatic. In an overcrowded field, the trick is not only to find good books but interesting stories with new types of characters.

Enter Gigi Pandian, a new author with an urban fanta
2.5 stars . OK, but nothing out of the ordinary. It was like one of those cute cozy witch mysteries.
1 Star

This review contains some spoilers.

Awful! Truly awful! I thought The Accidental Alchemist would be something like the Aisling Grey, Guardian series, a fun Urban Fantasy series. The premise sounded interesting: a 300-something-year-old alchemist, a talking gargoyle, a mysterious ancient book, and a murderer on the loose. There were some good ideas there. Unfortunately, those ideas were utterly wasted through the stiff, stilted writing, boring plot, pathetic insta-love, and piss-poor charac
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian is the first book in the Accidental Alchemist Mystery series. Zoe Faust is an alchemist and herbalist born over 300 years ago yet due to her discoveries does not age. She moves to Portland, Oregon to start afresh and discovers a stowaway gargoyle Dorian in her luggage. Dorian is slowly turning back to stone and enlists Zoe's help to save him. In the meantime she becomes involved in the murder of her handyman. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I woul ...more
Carrie Mansfield
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
My review can be found on my blog.

ARC provided by the publisher.

I'm disappointed, son. This book had a cool premise: Alchemy is cool. The concept of Dorian is cool. The problem is neither are properly utilized.

The Accidental Alchemist is a mystery with a dash of the fantastic by the way of alchemy. As I indicated though, the plot feels flimsy, so much so at one point the characters resort to having a dinner party so that the mystery will somehow resolve itself. The plan is inspired by the myster
Thiago Alves
I'm still having mixed feelings about this book. Do I want to continue the series? Yes. Did I had fun reading it? Yes. So why I don't feel like this was an excellent book? Maybe the culinary descriptions were a bit too much, or maybe some cliches (like the girl falling in love with the heroic and incorruptible character) were hard to forgive, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the book.

Since I listened to the audio of it, I need to give kudos to Julia Motyka (the narrator) that, undoubtedly made the bo
N.N. Light
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! The story was a refreshing change from what I've read recently. Gigi Pandian is new to me but I will be reading more by this author. ...more
Barbara ★
I enjoyed the story but it's way too focused on food and food preparation. The timeline is less than a week (or maybe two) and they eat elaborate breakfasts, lunches and dinners every single day. Just too much detail that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. The author made it perfectly plain that she is Vegan and proud of it. ...more
Laura Thomas
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There aren’t a lot of gargoyles books out there and most of those are about shifters. They can be human or gargoyle. This gargoyle is all gargoyle.

Zoe Faust has finally found a place to settle down, tired of her Airstream trailer and moving from place to place. Portland seems to touch something inside her. So she finds a fixer upper and moves into her new home.

Let me introduce you to Zoe. She’s an alchemist, specifically Spagyrics, plant alchemy, albeit a non practicing one now. She’s lived well
9 chapters in and I already can't stand this book. Within the first chapter the main character Zoe meets a gargoyle (which she manages to be totally okay with) and deals with a teenage boy breaking into her new house. How does she deal with said teenage boy? She fixes his cut and tells him to weed her lawn. She doesn't get upset or tell him what a stupid thing hes done. This novel is slow and laborious to try and muddle your way through. I find I have no interest in finding out how this story en ...more
Bill Tillman
What a delightful first book for Gigi Pandian, the Draft was her NaNoWriMo entry. I was hooked from the first page, an alchemist and an animated gargoyle moving into a haunted house in Portland! What special mix of ingredients, I don't know if Gigi has walked Portland streets but she is spot on about almost everything. Adding three fourteen year olds from the neighbourhood and a detective tree hugger was brilliant. Having a dead body show on the front lawn on Zoe's first morning moved the story ...more
Eoghann Irving
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Urban Fantasy is an extremely popular genre and one that supports quite a range of styles. With The Accidental Alchemist Gigi Pandian may have come up with an entirely new sub-genre, or at least one I was not previously familiar with. It is part mystery, part recipe book!

I'm exaggerating here, but only slightly. The book is a light-hearted one that certainly belongs in the Urban Fantasy fold, though marking itself apart with an absence of werewolves, vampires or demons. There is a gargoyle thoug
Mike Finn
I'm happy to say that, with 'The Accidental Alchemist' I've found a new, light-but-not-fluffy Urban Fantasy series to read.

Gigi Pandian has managed to produce a book that is original, engaging, has a good enough plot to keep me turning the pages, characters well-drawn enough for me to care about, avoids gore and insta-love/rote-romance and still manages to keep a feel-good tone. That's quite an achievement.

Zoe Faust, the Accidental Alchemist of the title, was a breath of fresh air. In her fourth
So, I Read This Book Today
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“This is why alchemy exists,” the boy said. “So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold.
That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are wa
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Accidental Alchemist was an imaginative read. There are quite a few reviews so I will write what I liked about the book. I liked the bonding or friendship between Zoe(300 year old alchemist), Dorian(a gargoyle who has come to life) and Brixton ( a 14 year old neighbor who is left on his own probably too much).

Zoe has been on the move for over 300 years . She survived the Salem witch trials and fled to France. She fell in love with Portland Oregon and has decided to try to put down roots. Do
Fangs for the Fantasy
Zoe Faust, alchemist, herbalist and semi-immortal, has stopped her long years of wandering across America to finally settle in her new home in Portland. She’s finally ready to set down some roots and let go of the pain of the past.

But her fresh start wasn’t intended to include a stow-away gargoyle in her storage crates. Dorian needs an alchemist, desperately, as his body is turning back to stone and only a studious alchemist can reverse that if they can interpret the book he has…

…which is then s
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian is a light hearted mystery novel for all ages. Infused with alchemy and fantasy, it moves quickly and is intriguing in its characterization.

"..The gray creature looked similar to the famous "thinker" gargoyle, with short horns and folded wings. The main difference was that this gargoyle held an old, leather-bound book in his arms. That was odd. I would have expected any added detail to be made of stone, not this real book with leather binding. I couldn't
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
How many authors could bring a stone gargoyle to life and make the reader care for him as much as they would care for a human? Gigi Pandian has done this in the first of a series of mysteries that will feature Dorian Robert-Houdin as a French gargoyle who needs the help of herbalist Zoe Faust to survive. A murder at her newly-acquired wreck of a house and the theft of Dorian's book of alchemy cast Zoe back into long-forgotten alchemical mysteries (as well as into the path of a detective whose kn ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
This book never quite seemed to find its groove. It would have made a perfect YA, except that the protagonist is a grownup. It would have been a good murder mystery, except that no one really seemed to care about the murder victim and there wasn't a sense of urgency about finding the killer (except in the sense that the murder appeared to be (view spoiler)). It would have been a fun fantasy novel ...more
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Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. She's the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, and spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research trips. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over the ga ...more

Other books in the series

An Accidental Alchemist Mystery (5 books)
  • The Masquerading Magician
  • The Elusive Elixir (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery Book 3)
  • The Alchemist's Illusion (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery Book 4)
  • The Lost Gargoyle of Paris (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery #4.5)

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