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The Alchemy Thief

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When the secrets of the past threaten to destroy the future.

A tale of hope, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of a woman, this sweeping epic spans the Atlantic from New England to Morocco during the Age of Exploration.

2019: A young woman finds a relic engraved with a mysterious symbol off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Terrorists in Morocco steal a 17th-century book engraved with the same symbol. As the woman struggles to unravel the secrets behind the symbol, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined.

1657: Transported back in time, she meets the alchemist, John Winthrop, Jr. who is plotting to lure the greatest scientific minds to the New World. But the more she learns, the more she fears for the lives of the loved ones she left behind.

In a stunning twist of fate, a modern terrorist has traveled into the past, where he has become a Barbary Corsair. He has plans of his own. And he will stop at nothing to succeed.

474 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 16, 2021

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About the author

R.A. Denny

10 books61 followers
R.A. Denny is a history buff with a law degree from Duke University. After many years of practicing criminal law, she retired to do what she loves.

She is the author of Pirates and Puritans, a historical fiction series, and Tales of Tzoladia, an epic fantasy series. She enjoys spending time with her family and looking for adventure.

She has traveled to the ancient rock city of Petra on horseback, flown through the jungles of Costa Rica on zip lines, and visited the Great Pyramid on a camel.

In 2018 she toured Morocco as part of her research for her book, The Alchemy Thief.

R.A. lives in Delaware. As a child, she had two pet flying squirrels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Jariabek.
Author 2 books2 followers
April 7, 2022
Be careful of what you ask of God … as you just might get it.

“…The vastness of the ocean that stretched to meet the sky filled her with a longing to reconnect with the God of the universe. She wanted to feel that closeness and security again. ‘Here I am, God, she prayed. ‘But what am I here for?’”

Author R.A. Denny treats us to a great historical fiction fantasy tale, set in the mid 1650s. I have always loved historical fiction books because the author takes a real event or character and breathes life and context into it, and how those details are done is always fascinating. The Alchemy Thief does that, and then some, through its characters. An added treat is that the characters developed for this novel have a personal meaning to Ms. Denny, making the story that much more real.

The story starts in modern time when two young people come into a possession of an ancient bodkin, made of metal researched by alchemists. Covered with mysterious markings and a stone, and unbeknownst to the two young characters in the novel, the bodkin catalyzes time travel when exposed to lightning.

One of the people, the genealogy-loving American college freshman Experience “Peri” Fuller goes back to discover her Puritan New England roots and experience history of her distant relatives. She learns about the People of the First Light Nation history and culture, and falls in love with Daniel, the son of the sachem (chief) Myoxeo.

Since Peri knows some of her family and regional history, she tries to make the best of her circumstances while trying to figure out how to return to her own time. She tries to fit into her new culture and influence outcomes without becoming condemned as a witch, no feat for a modern person in that age! She has not yet learned that while she cannot change history, history may change her.

Unable to prevent the sailing off the ill-fated Hopewell, Peri sails to travel to England with Daniel. When the Hopewell is attacked and overtaken by the Black Raven, fate crosses her path with Ayoub.

This second person, a young thief and terrorist Ayoub, is teleported to the time of the height of the Salé Rovers. He is rescued by a pirate ship, and predictably chooses continues his life’s path through piracy.

Ayoub dreams of destruction of Allah’s enemies at any cost, a goal so ingrained in his young life that he ‘dreams’ in horrific nightmares and is accused of being possessed by a djinn (a spirit).

Thoughts on the book’s historical themes

The character of Peri, who was over-protected by her mother and at the start of the book does not know how she will handle college away from friends and family, grows much stronger towards the end. As an amateur HF writer, the piece that I wanted to explore was the origins of the two main characters – which seemed to have a ‘backstory,’ no pun intended.

Ms. Denny wanted to give Peri an opportunity to discover her strengths through the story’s tests. What I learned was that Peri’s character was inspired by two real-life, amazing women that overcame the hardships of their time.

The first inspiration was Ms. Denny’s mother, who overcame great personal adversity at a very young age—the untimely death of her own mother at childbirth. She survived the Great Depression, and later beat her advanced cancer diagnosis by 15 years. The other inspiration was the real Hanna Mayhew Daggett, whose life in 17th century New England was also filled with great challenges of her own time. Young Hanna appears as a character in the novel. Denny wanted to explore the personal courage of these two women, and Peri was the ideal character for that exploration.

The pitiful character of Ayoub remains an anger-driven zealot. This is another composite character based on real life of Ms. Denny’s work, who prior to taking up the quill was a criminal prosecutor. After a career-long study of what made traumatized children commit violent crimes, Ms. Denny wrote her knowledge into a character of a modern day 10-year-old child terrorist who has not experienced much love in his childhood.

Unlike Peri’s over-protected childhood, Ayoub repeatedly witnessed horrific torture and murder, including the act of suicide bombing by his own mother. Within his portion of the book – a timeline of some 10 years, Ayoub struggles with controlling his anger. His black-and-white extremist reactions were beaten into him, dehumanizing him to become a murderous creature. Even later events of kindness, such as shown by his captain, fail to moderate his outlook and are seen as means that propel him on his life-long, violent quest to establish a caliphate. (More on that in the second book though!)

I also enjoyed the nod to naval history in this book. Like most naval history buffs, I certainly was aware of the Salé Rovers. The Alchemy Thief shows some of the historical research Denny has done—the real-life Thomas Mayhew Senior’s belief that his son did not perish at sea. The novel explores the fate of its characters after the skirmish with Ayoub’s Black Raven.
As the readers doubtlessly know, before the Barbary Wars, the real-life Barbary Pirates terrorized shipping and raided coastal towns around the geography of north-western Africa, Atlantic, and Mediterranean. There are also accounts of trade and settlement on the eastern seaboard of New England Antony Janszoon van Salee, (the real-life son of Murat Reis or the Admiral of the Salé Rovers) lived in the area that is now Coney Island .

Since the Salé Rovers captured Christian ships, goods captured crews as well as any passengers became profits. In her research, Denny mentions that circa 1,000,000 were captured, ransomed, or sold into slavery over about 100 years. In a twist where a storm blows her further south, the Hopewell becomes an attractive target for the Rovers, and Peri faces more tests of personal courage.
Even though the ending was foreshadowed in an early scene, I was also completely surprised in the end. I am not going to spoil it, but Brahim’s character and action was a total shock to me. I even went back to re-read the setup scene - very well done by Denny and a complete payoff to the book’s title!

I really enjoyed learning more about Ms. Denny’s research for the story, how it influenced the characters, and the historical details of New England and Morocco. I also really enjoyed reading the Alchemy Thief and I look forward to books two and three.
940 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2021
Title: The Alchemy Thief
Author: R.A Denny
Genre: fantasy, history
Rating: 4 out of 5

This was quite an interesting read. I haven’t read any time travel novels set in Puritan New England (Well, before it was actually New England.), so that kept me interested. Peri was just an innocent in 2019, so she fit right in in the past—in a manner of speaking.

The writing here is solid, and the characters, even the Corsair from the future, were intriguing enough to keep me engrossed in the novel. There’s a lot going on, but it blends together to make for an entertaining read.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Nila Eslit.
106 reviews5 followers
February 17, 2022
A group of Islamists takes interest in an ancient book of alchemy that is currently on display at a museum. They believe the book holds the key that would lead them to power.

The year 2019. While swimming in the ocean in Massachusetts, Peri found a hairpin-like object with a mysterious symbol on it.

When she gets home after the swim, Peri hears the news on television about a bomb explosion in Morocco. The news says that a small ancient book in the museum is stolen. Peri recognizes the museum and the stand on which the stolen book was displayed. She and her best friend, Jen, visited the place a month prior to the incident.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, a ten-year-old boy and his mother enter a museum in Morocco. They pretend to be visitors, interested on the items on display. However, as the museum guard gets distracted by an explosion, the boy steals a book from its display stand. He successfully gets away with it and escapes from the scene. While his mother stays behind and threatens the guard to blow herself. She wears a bomb on her body.

The ten-year-old boy is named Ayoub. He proceeds to deliver the book to a certain person. However, the man to whom he gives it throws him off a boat. Thankfully, he is rescued by a group of pirates.

Unknown to him, Ayoub is transported back in time to the year 1647.

Peri and the Bodkin

Back to Peri. The 18-year-old woman goes to study at Harvard. Once she's settled at her new room, she remembers the hairpin she found in the ocean. Peri is fascinated by the object because of its mysterious engravings. On one side of the object, a moon and a fox are engraved. While the other side features a strange symbol. She realizes that the hairpin is similar to the image found on the cover of the stolen book.

Peri pursues her search regarding the mysterious object. She posts a photo of it on social media. Soon, Peri's posts draw attention from some people, including a terrorist group.

Later, during an activity she participated in, Peri is sucked into a ball of light. She's transported back in time to the year 1657. This is the period before King Philip's War in New England. Peri lands in a community of Puritans, new settlers that cohabitate peacefully with the Native American tribes.

Encounter Between the Pirates and Puritans

Even as she desires to go back to the future, Peri also needs to get along with the Puritans who welcome her. She gets to work with John Winthrop, the younger, at his alchemy laboratory.

On the other hand, Ayoub enjoys his life as a pirate. He's able to accumulate a lot of booties. He even dreams of building a caliphate of his own someday.

In a twist of fate, the Puritans and Peri encounter Ayoub and his group of pirates. Learn how the encounter goes. Read The Alchemy Thief and follow the story of the two individuals from the future. Will Peri and Ayoub discover each other's identity?

The Alchemy Thief: The Book and the Author

Written by R.A. Denny, The Alchemy Thief is a well-researched historical fiction. It covers the present and the 17th century periods well. I like Denny's writing style. The author carefully weaves her story so well that she engages the reader right from the start to the end. Likewise, she develops her story with steady momentum that allows readers to savor each scene. Her vivid descriptions bring them right where the actions take place.

What I like most in the book is Denny's effort of incorporating some tribal words. In a sense, she shows respect for and recognizes the minority's importance in the overall history.

However, I like the ending the least. It happens just like a snap of a finger. But, in fairness to the author, I think she intentionally does that to keep the reader wanting to read more of her works. After all, she indicates that The Alchemy Thief is the first of a series.

Another thing that bothers me is the presence of a lot of characters. Many of them don't contribute much to the overall story.

Meanwhile, on the technical side, I found a handful of typographical and grammatical errors in the book. But they're not a big deal. The flaws mostly consist of missing words in a sentence.

Overall, I give The Alchemy Thief a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to readers 16 years old and above. I don't suggest this book to younger readers, though. There are some scenes not suitable to young minds. I also look forward to reading the succeeding installments of the series.

NOTE: The Above review is also posted at The Catalyst.

Profile Image for Kristy Sherrod.
53 reviews2 followers
July 9, 2021
First, thank you to the author for sending me the book! Normally, I’m not one for fiction mixed with things like time-travel but I wanted to give this one a try since I do enjoy historical fiction.

A book that includes a Harvard freshman swept up in time travel and a terrorist plot? Interesting to say the least! But it proved to be full of continued twists and turns that kept me wanting to know more.

The book was one I kept picking back up all day when I had the chance (it only took a day because I’m off for the summer!). The plot line keeps you guessing what will happen next through the entire book; however, I only rate 4 stars because I think some characters weren’t needed or could’ve been less developed as they weren’t central to the plot, and some could’ve been more developed because they seem to be needed for the plot. I would’ve liked to have learned more about Liam and his intentions; I’m guessing this could be covered in the 2nd book in the series so I’ll wait and see.

The book could also be classified as somewhat of a religious fiction book (also not something I normally go for) because of the elements of Christianity, Islam, and the polytheistic culture of Native Americans. I will admit that I was concerned that the book would paint Christianity as “good” and the other cultures and religions as “bad/evil,” but it did not in this book. However, again that was part of the 4 star rating as I’m not sure if the author intends to do that in the rest of the series or if it was simply the way this one was written in certain parts.

Overall the book was very well written and the amount of historical research that went into it was phenomenal. I hope to read the second book in the series once it is released!

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of the book by the author to provide an honest review.
Profile Image for Katreader.
716 reviews25 followers
July 24, 2021
The First Pirates & Puritans Book

In 2019 Peri Fuller is enjoying life, excited to be a freshman at Harvard being wooed by a wealthy older student. She’s also intrigued by the discovery of an interesting relic she found while swimming in the Atlantic; a piece that seems to have the same symbols as a book she saw on a recent trip to Morocco. Life is not so pleasant for Ayoub. Ayoub, a 10-year-old terrorist, has succeeded in stealing a rare book from a Moroccan museum, but at the cost of his mother. An ocean apart, freak storms and a strange ball of light transport both into the past. Ayoub grows up a feared Barbary corsair while Peri joins a group of Puritans in Martha’s Vineyard in the mid-1600s. As Ayoub strives to rid the world of infidels, Peri looks for a way home. Stuck in the 17th century Peri slowly realizes she may hold the clue to stop a terrorist threat in 2019.

Past and present are intimately entwined in THE ALCHEMY THIEF and I love how the connections are slowly revealed. Both Ayoub and Peri are flawed protagonists. Peri has the naivety and self-absorption of youth while Ayoub is basically a soulless villain. Both grow and persevere for very different reasons. Daniel is my favorite character of the book, a well-rounded, smart, and dashing lead player while Liam is the obnoxious spoiled rich boy.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about the religious overtones of the book, particularly the conversion of the Wampanoag. While I appreciate the dedication and faithfulness of the Puritans, at times the book seemed to be a bit preachy, especially with the counterpoint of Muslim extremists. I truly appreciate the historical detail that kept me engrossed in the story.

The biggest issue I had with the book was the ending. There wasn’t one. After a very long and involved story readers come to a stopping point, with several plot points revealed, but there was no resolution. There will be a second and even third book in the series, so I hope that readers will eventually find out what happens.

THE ALCHEMY THIEF is a fascinating genre bending novel incorporating historical detail with modern terroristic thrills.
Profile Image for Steph Warren.
1,269 reviews22 followers
May 7, 2023
*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

This book is the first in a planned time-travelling Pirates and Puritans series, so the story is left unresolved at the end, ready to lead straight into book 2, The Sultan’s Court.

The story follows Peri from modern times to 1657 as she is transported back to puritan US society and attempts to find her way back using alchemy and lightning, whilst avoiding the ever-present danger of being denounced as a witch.

There are lots of religious under- and overtones, encompassing spirituality, native American beliefs, Christianity and Islam. There is also lots of science, natural philosophy, alchemy and magic. And all of it framed by Peri’s personal journey between times and into danger.

If you love historical and religious fiction, liberally sprinkled with time travel, terrorism and natural (and unnatural) alchemy, then this is the series for you. And if you want to know whether Peri ever makes it back safely, books 2 and 3 are already available now!

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
3 reviews
June 14, 2021
Peri is a freshman at Harvard who finds an ancient palladium bodkin in the shallow waters off Martha's Vineyard. During a storm, the bodkin attracts some ball lightning, and she is transported to the days of Puritans and Indians in 1657. Ayoub is a 10-year-old refugee being trained by jihadists to steal and kill. He steals a rare book from a Morocco museum, and before he gives it to his handlers, he finds a similar bodkin hidden in the back cover. He too is swept back in time (about 10 years prior to Peri's transporting) during a storm, arriving during the days of pirates.

Peri is exposed as a witch when she consults her cell phone and some servants see her. She is extracted from jail by Daniel, an Indian converted to Christianity, and they run for it. Daniel sneaks her on a ship bound for London, but an encounter with pirates led by Ayoub sends them both to Morocco as slaves.

Peri and Daniel are delightful characters. Both are strong in their own ways, and quickly start falling for the other. Peri must make it back to 2019 so she can foil a jihadist plot to use the knowledge in the rare book to make powerful weapons. Ayoub wants to use the knowledge to bring AK-47's into the 17th century. Quite a fun book, and very well written.
Profile Image for Not Sarah Connor  Writes.
428 reviews31 followers
March 5, 2022
Despite my low review this book isn't all bad. It has a lot of potential and it's clear that the author has a lot of passion and care for what she is writing, but the various repetition and underdeveloped characters made this a tough book to get through. With a good editor this could be something great.

Read the full review on my blog!

Thanks to the author who gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julia Bell.
Author 12 books203 followers
June 2, 2023
I enjoyed The Alchemy Thief and it seemed very well researched, since the story crossed many borders and delved into many cultures. I loved the way the plot interacted between the modern day and the 17th century.
There were some writing errors that made me wince, but the saddest part was when I reached the end and realised I had to buy the next book to find out what happened to Peri and Daniel.
I'm not sure I will buy, but you never know.
I can recommend this book for those who enjoy time travel.
Profile Image for Angela Cuéllar.
905 reviews96 followers
June 16, 2021
Thank you to the author for submitting this book for review!

R.A. Denny always seems to have a knack for taking bits of genres and making her own, for coming up with unique ideas and making them actually work. This was an unexpected book to come across and yet with her writing I fell into the story easily. The history was fascinating, the characters were intriguing, the plot was steady yet captivating, and overall I enjoyed reading it. Peri and Ayoub's storylines are certainly twisting together in a way that will keep you curious for more.
Profile Image for Susan Lundy.
267 reviews6 followers
June 1, 2021
The Alchemy Thief starts another genre-busting fiction series by R.A. Denny. Because I had purchased and read her previous series, I am delighted to review her pre-published version of this new work. The historical research made me think this would be a good cross-over book for a high school English/History teacher to assign because the author not only did the research but also included BOTH an author's historical note describing the basis of the characters AND a vocabulary describing, for example, indigenous tribal words for the 2nd wandering soul (Cowwewonck) and other historically valuable insights. My least liked part of any story is always the romance because the formula rarely changes (boy meets girl, attracted, together, broken apart, together, broken apart again, and repeat). This time, Ms. Denny managed to vary the love interests enough to bring the characters into true perspective and make their romance more believable than a normal romance novel. (Hence, the tag of adult-fiction too.) The fantasy-sci-fi part of the story seemed to be somewhat based on physics, but that is definitely NOT my strong point so I'll assume the scientists who review will cover this area. I believed it could happen. Looking forward to future books in the series.
Profile Image for Jan farnworth.
1,310 reviews83 followers
July 20, 2021
The Alchemy Thief started slow. Usually, I'm not too fond of it when books start slow. But, in this instance, Peri and Ayoub's backstories needed it. Ayoub is an Islamic terrorist kid who helps his mother steal a book, and his mother loses her life as a result and Ayoub is adrift trying to fulfill the mission he has been tasked with. Along the way, he becomes mixed in with a group of pirates. Peri is a student at Harvard trying to make her way in life and finds an ancient palladium bodkin and, while attending her intern job as a puritan, is whisked away in a ball of lightning to the year 1657. How these two characters' lives get tangled up over a book and bodkin is a gripping tale indeed. Two bodkins are in play as Ayoub found one in the back of the book before he was tossed into the ocean. Both characters are interested in the book, one to foil a jihadist plot and bring Ak-47s into the 17 century. The author makes the story as she has done her research to make the past and present work in a way that keeps you wanting to read to see what will happen next. You are immersed in the life that Peri experiences with a hunky Daniel Native American by her side. How will peri make it back to the present? You don't get that answer in this book, but I stayed tuned for book two.
Profile Image for Lisa.
402 reviews38 followers
September 19, 2021
I enjoy a good time travel read, and this one had a bit of a different take on it. Here, time travel involves alchemy.

Ayoub is a Moroccan boy, growing up Muslim, learning what can only be called terrorist ways. When he is helping his mother steal a book from a museum, things go wrong. His mother loses her life, and Ayoub is on the run with this book. Inside it he finds an artifact of some kind. The artifact whisks him to the days of the Barbary pirates through a ball of light.

Experience Fuller (or Peri, as she understandably prefers to be called in this modern world) is a freshman in college. She’s looking forward to enjoying the college experience, and she’s flattered and maybe a bit overwhelmed when Liam, an older student, takes a romantic interest in her. She discovers an artifact in the shallow waters off Martha’s Vineyard. During a storm, the artifact attracts ball lightning, and much like Ayoub, Peri is transported back in time. She finds herself in the era of the Puritans.

Ayoub is rescued by a pirate crew. He resolves to become captain of his own ship, and then use the artifact to travel forward in time and bring modern weapons back. His goal is then to establish the Caliphate before America becomes a nation powerful enough to fight against them.

Peri is rescued from the water by a group that includes Daniel, a Wampanoag who has converted to Christianity and is training to become a minister. She ends up meeting her ancestors and, by the by, Connecticut Governor John Winthrop, Jr. Winthrop is an alchemist, and Peri is able to learn about alchemy from him in hopes of figuring out how she can get back home. She has realized that there’s a connection between her artifact and a book she’d seen on her travels, and between the book and terrorist activity.

Ms. Denny clearly did her research on this book. The historical detail is almost an education in itself! I’m not a huge student of history, and I never really think about what else was going on in the world when studying one aspect of history. This book helped me do just that. The Barbary pirates were the terrorists of their day, so it seems fitting that our time travelers should end up in similar situations when they were transported back – Ayoub with like-minded fellows, Peri with the Americans that will be.

Peri was a little dithery at first, and I really wanted to scream at her when she was so infatuated with Liam. He just seemed off to me (and indeed, he is). But I thought about what I was like at that age, and realized I was probably very similar to Peri when I headed off to college. Ayoub is slightly terrifying in his single-mindedness and his determination to bring 21st-century havoc to the 17th century.

The book doesn’t have a cut and dried ending. It’s rather a cliffhanger. I loathe cliffhangers, because it means I have to wait to get my hands on the next book, and I hate waiting. So I’m anxiously looking forward to seeing how the story continues. Will Ayoub succeed? Will Peri stop him? Will Peri find a way to stay with Daniel, or to bring him with her back to modern times? How will that even work? I have so many questions!

I recommend this if you like well-researched and detailed historical fiction, time travel, and a little bit of romance. It’s a lot of fun, and I look forward to reading more.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the author for an advance copy of the book. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books that I don’t really like.
Profile Image for Lora Shouse.
Author 1 book28 followers
August 19, 2021
The Alchemy Thief is an unusual sort of time travel book. Like most time travel stories that are not complete fantasies, it contains a large dose of historical fiction. But it focuses on an unusual area.

Two young people from the twenty-first century – Experience Fuller (she prefers to be called Peri), a college student from a devout Christian family, and Ayoub, a Moroccan boy who was raised to be a terrorist – are separately transported to the mid-1600s by a process that somehow involves alchemy and ball lightning. They land close to the places where each of them started out – Tangier for Ayoub and Plymouth Colony for Peri – but their adventures slowly draw them toward each other.

Peri is a descendant of the family that originally owned Martha’s Vinyard (after the Native Americans, of course), and her travels take her there almost at once. There she meets her ancestors and their friends and neighbors. She also meets Daniel, a member of the Wampanoag tribe who has converted to Christianity and plans on being trained as a minister. She is also introduced to Governor John Winthrop Jr. of Connecticut who is, among other things, an alchemist and is initiated into some of the mysteries of alchemy. Unfortunately, she always has to worry about being caught with anything belonging to the twenty-first century and being burned as a witch.

Peri would like to return to her own place and time where she has been relatively happy. But she would also like to remain in the past with Daniel – or somehow bring him back to the present with her.

Ayoub is rescued by a pirate crew and eventually becomes a pirate himself. Though he and Peri are transported to the past from close to the same time in the present, he arrives in the past several years earlier than Peri, and by the time she sets out on a voyage to England, he has grown up and become captain of his own pirate ship. Ayoub’s main ambition is to return to the present just long enough to acquire modern firearms and bring them back to the past so he can defeat the infidels and establish the Caliphate before America becomes a powerful country.

This is a fascinating story, and it doesn’t end by the end of the book, so obviously there will be more adventures to come.
Profile Image for Susan van der Walt.
86 reviews3 followers
December 2, 2021
I've received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

The Alchemy Thief is the first book of the Pirates & Puritans series. It is a historical fiction novel and takes place in New England and Morocco. Two people are transported back in time, from 2019 to the 17th-century.

How do you hide that you are from the future when you suddenly find yourself in an earlier time? The characters show great strength and creativity to adapt to their very different circumstances.

Both want to return to the future, but for totally different reasons.

The one wants to get his hand on modern weapons and come back to establish the caliphate in the 17th century. The other is driven by the last message she received on her cellphone on her last day in 2019.

The novel poses the question: 'Will actions taken in the past change the future?'

In The Alchemy Thief, the author paints a contract between modern living and the more conservative lifestyle of the past. She introduces many historical figures and makes a part of history come alive for her readers.

I like the cartoonish effect used for the cover, as it blends in well with the fantasy element of time travel in the narrative.

Imagine a cellphone in the 17th-century? Well, it features in the story, but the fact that it was still working is maybe a bit of a stretch...
But considering the fantasy element, I think we can give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Overall, I've enjoyed the book and recommend it to people who like history and adventure novels. I am delighted that the sequel will be available in October 2021.

Trigger Warnings: Violence | Death | Slavery | Mind Control

Read the full review on my blog: https://readorrot.com/the-alchemy-thi...
Profile Image for Sandy.
982 reviews12 followers
July 31, 2022
The Alchemy Thief

Very interesting time travel story, involving terrorists, pirates and innocents that get
swept into the intrigue and have to struggle to get out.
Profile Image for Livy.
256 reviews12 followers
November 17, 2021
This was a wonderful start to a series that I know is going to be fantastic. It was well-grounded in the time period and had a brilliant story that while it took some time to get going held me enthralled to the very end.

Peri was an incredibly interesting character and I really loved how feisty she was despite everything that was going on around her. Plus, I believe that she adapted incredibly well to the situations she found herself in and that I really admired. I also liked having Ayoub as a contrasting perspective as it was incredibly interesting and I thought that it was such a cool choice of the author to have it given his views and experiences. Daniel was also a wonderful character and I absolutely loved his and Peri's relationship and I loved how to fed into the plot of the book too.

Speaking of the plot, I thought that it was brilliant. I loved the whole time travel aspect and how that played into the book, especially because it allowed a wonderful twist later on in the book. I thought that the book was well-paced and dramatic in all of the right places. I just had such a great time experiencing the past with Peri and looking at how it all tied together, especially because of the twist that I have already mentioned.

The writing was very detailed and I just loved how well-grounded it was in the time period as I have already said. This book was incredibly engaging and i know that the rest of the series will be wonderful!

I was kindly provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
1 review
September 1, 2021
The Alchemy Thief is a story comprising a good blend of history and adventure, with a touch of romance. The story line has a way of drawing you in further the more you read. I read it on a kindle, so I wasn't able to read ahead and therefore it held the suspense and curiosity for me all the way through. I enjoyed this book very much.
365 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2022
Page turner

Well crafted story, plausible and entertaining. I will need to find out what happens to Peri and Daniel. Too much fun.
30 reviews
December 16, 2021
This book is the first of R.A. Denny’s “Pirates and Puritans” series. Whereas her previous series, “Tales of Tzoladia,” was fantasy, this book is a combination of historical and science fiction.

Two people from the twenty-first century end up in the seventeenth century. One is Ayoub, a member of ISIS. The other is Peri, short for “Experience.” They do not know each other and accidentally end up in the past at different times, with neither knowing about the other until later in the book. Ayoub is on a pirate ship with other Muslims, whereas Peri is with the Puritans, among whom her name “Experience” is not unusual.

Ayoub initially struggles to understand and to fit into his new surroundings. The Muslim crew finds him unusual and speculates that he is possessed with a jinn, especially when he tries to explain twenty-first century weaponry to them. They take him to an Islamic mystic, who proves to be a gentle presence throughout the book. Over the years, Ayoub comes to attain a prominent and respectable position among the crew. The question then becomes whether Ayoub will use his knowledge of the future to change history and establish a caliphate, right when America is in its infancy stage.

Peri confronts her own set of challenges among the Puritans. She is arrested for witchcraft due to the nature of her arrival and controversial things that she innocently says, but she is rescued by the Puritan leader John Winthrop, who is unsure what to make of her but has his own affinity with alchemy, which arguably overlaps with witchcraft. (Not that he would say that, but he would be more open to the bizarre or the paranormal than the average Puritan.) Peri also tries to adapt to a patriarchal society with stricter sexual and social mores.

Other characters are Peri’s love interests. In the twenty-first century, there is Liam. Unknown to Peri, Liam is a secret ISIS recruit, reaching out to her as part of a larger agenda whose intricacies are hidden even from him. He encourages her to take a class with Professor Bey, who turns out to have his own mysterious history. In the seventeenth century, there is Daniel, a gifted Native American convert to Puritan Christianity.

The struggles by Ayoub and Peri to adjust to new surroundings, and those surroundings’ attempts to grapple with them, are an asset to this book. Perhaps that element could have been enhanced had the Puritan characters not spoken in contractions (“can’t,” “don’t”). At first, they were formal in their speech, but their speech became less formal as the book went on.

This part of the book is profound, as it highlights the nuances of historical characters and how they are more rounded than their conventional portrayal suggests:

“[Willam] Harris had spoken up for some pacifists which caused Roger Williams to call him an anarchist. Peri had never heard of this controversy. She had been taught that Williams was the most tolerant of the Puritans. She wondered if Harris had hanged.”

Other noteworthy aspects of the book include how a conventional Western young man like Liam could become drawn to ISIS, and how God led Daniel, within his own Native American culture, to become open to Christianity. The latter will resonate with those who enjoy Don Richardson’s Eternity in their Hearts, which concerns how God reveals Godself in non-Christian cultures and thus makes them open to the Gospel.

The best part of the story itself is when Peri finally meets Ayoub, with each of them surprised to encounter another time traveler.

This book is clearer than Denny’s “Tzoladia” series. I was still confused in some places, perhaps because of my own struggle with reading fiction. Non-fiction is better at laying things out, whereas, with fiction, the reader needs to do more work on his or her own part. Not really understanding what a “bodkin” is may have sown some confusion on my part, as the bodkin plays a significant part in this book; there is also the factor, if memory serves me correctly, that there are two supernatural bodkins, yet both are the same one: the one in the museum, and that bodkin in the past.

I was a little unclear about how Peri could marry Daniel when she was Ayoub’s captive.

Then there is the identification of the mysterious Dr. Bey. He turns out to be another character who is in the book, but my response was “Who?” I do not think he was the Islamic mystic, since the Islamic mystic is a good person, but I am unsure. Sorry for the spoiler there. Perhaps that aspect of the book could have been resolved had Denny included in the back a guide about the main characters, like her excellent guide about the historical personages in the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. My review is honest!
Profile Image for Kristi.
175 reviews11 followers
April 24, 2022
The first in the Pirates and Puritans series, The Alchemy Thief has an ambitious, intricately woven plot that spans centuries and continents.

Experience “Peri” Fuller is about to start her studies at Harvard when she discovers an ancient hairpin in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. She becomes intrigued by the symbol on the artifact, which believes she has seen before during a post-graduation trip with her best friend.

Shortly after embarking on a new relationship, starting college, and beginning an internship, Peri is suddenly and dramatically transported to 1657, where she meets among others an alchemist John Winthrop, Jr., and Daniel, a Wampanoag man who lived with Reverend Thomas Mayhew, Jr. as a boy.

This historical fiction tale has a lot of components I enjoy in a book: a leading woman character who grows during the course of the story, the use of time travel as a major component of the plot, and references to an interesting time period in early American history.

Denny also throws in hypnosis, alchemy, pirates, and terrorists – elements that are both interesting and overwhelming at times.

The Alchemy Thief was told mostly from Peri’s perspective but interspersed a good number of chapters from the viewpoint of Ayoub, a young thief raised to be a terrorist. I connected more with Peri. I found myself engrossed in her story, particularly after she is transported in time, while I dreaded getting to Ayoub’s chapters because of their disturbing descriptions of violent and horrific acts.

There is a fair amount of attention given to religion in this book, which makes sense given it is a story that focuses heavily on 17th-century Puritans and includes references to Islamic extremism. While I could see that some of the ways the author presented the Christian and Muslim faiths were to be true to the time period, there seemed to be a hint of bias against the Muslim faith which made me uncomfortable.

I was also caught off guard that the book, which is nearly 500 pages long, stopped so abruptly, leaving me wanting desperately to find out what happens to Peri, her family, and the friends she makes in the 17th century. I understand ending on a cliffhanger to build interest in the next book in the series, but after investing so much time in the characters, I felt readers deserved a little more closure.

To the author’s credit, it is clear she cares about history, has a fantastic imagination, and that she did an amazing amount of research to write this book. I enjoyed the Author’s Note at the end which provided insight into which characters were real historical figures.

Thank you to R.A. Denny for providing me with a free e-review copy of The Alchemy Thief. The views expressed in this review reflect my honest opinion.

To read more of my reviews, visit www.bookpicksandpics.com.
554 reviews5 followers
July 19, 2021
The novel starts out slowly in 2019, following Peri discovering the hairpin in Martha’s Vineyard as well as Ayoub stealing the book and finding the needle within it. While it isn’t explicitly stated that the items are one and the same, it’s not likely to be a very common item across time. Peri is drawn into selecting classes at Harvard she wants to take, as well as joining re-enactment groups, and Ayoub is rescued by pirates and learns how to be one himself. It’s not until about a quarter way through that it picks up a bit of speed. There is still a lot of daily life and cultural notes regarding the time periods, so those interested in that will enjoy that section.

The novel starts out slowly in 2019, following Peri discovering the hairpin in Martha’s Vineyard as well as Ayoub stealing the book and finding the needle within it. While it isn’t explicitly stated that the items are one and the same, it’s not likely to be a very common item across time. Peri is drawn into selecting classes at Harvard she wants to take, as well as joining re-enactment groups, and Ayoub is rescued by pirates and learns how to be one himself. It’s not until about a quarter way through that it picks up a bit of speed. There is still a lot of daily life and cultural notes regarding the time periods, so those interested in that will enjoy that section.

The story is still slow when Peri meets the alchemist and Ayoub is planning to meet with a spiritual healer ten years after his arrival. Peri explains away any of her modernisms by saying she was originally from London and playing along as a modest Puritan. As with any book about time travel, events proceed in the past to match what is known about the future, and it’s not always what Peri thinks it will be. I was definitely more interested in her story thread more, but I think it’s also because there are so many other characters to deal with on her end of things. Ayoub is mostly training to be a corsair, so there isn’t as much going into his story thread in the first half of the novel. The visits with the spiritual healer were fascinating, as well as his ascension to a ship of his own.

It took quite a long time for the different threads of the story to connect, so it was a bit frustrating for me while reading it. I kept waiting for more to happen, and for the ties between the characters to be clearer. The Alchemy Thief is the start of a series of novels, so the slow speed is likely a product of setting up the different worlds. There’s almost too much detail, then it stops abruptly to be picked up in the sequel. It’s definitely a fascinating concept that will hopefully pick up as the series progresses.
Profile Image for Ananya V..
Author 2 books18 followers
September 5, 2022
When the author approached me to read and review her book, I considered it. They were a real author and it was an honest request. I read the premise at the back of the book and really found it interesting. And it was time travel, a plot direction I really like!

So, I picked it up and read it.

It took me a while to read, because of my real-life stuff and my other interests.

I really liked the direction in which the plot of the book was going, but I noticed that, in several places, I felt that the narration can slow down and become smoother. I hate adding spoilers, so I'll just say this: Where the author could've expanded and had to do so for the reader to really feel that emotion, they have rushed ahead as though they were exceeding a word limit. In such cases, the emotions of the characters seemed to be lacking.

As a result, I also failed to understand Ayoub and Peri completely. I'm not the author of this book, merely its reader, and a reader, I think that perhaps, the book could've stretched to explain the thoughts and the choice process a bit more. Not saying this is completely lacking, but it is missing where it is vital.

Hence, only four stars from me.

I would certainly recommend this book to those readers who love to read time travel books!
Profile Image for Shmuel Yaccoby.
Author 4 books9 followers
February 2, 2023
Original mysterious time travel story with a mission-driven narrative

We get to certain places we think an elusive fate brought us to, and yet we must understand why and for what reason. What a great narrative within a great premise and plotline.

I like the writing style and how this unusual, well-researched plotline is streamed and folded. Easy to visualize, easy to follow, easy to stay hooked.

One thing I missed a bit is the stormy, emotional inner feeling of the two young main characters when realizing they are in a different time period. Yet, there is everything needed for an excellent mystery: two parallel stories begged to be linked, a mysterious book, a magical fireball, adventurous scientist, evolving main characters, and an underlined narrative.

There were also some entertaining parts rather than scary such as the discovery of electricity, which left me smiling as if I am entering a primordial scene from Back to the Future.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jane Blanchard.
Author 11 books48 followers
November 24, 2021
This story is about Experience Fuller, Peri, who faces adversity when she time-travels from 2019 to 1657 and the time of Puritans, “Savages,” and pirates. In the past, she must learn the period’s customs, including subservience, faith, and keeping her future knowledge a secret or be considered a witch. She often faces death and needs Daniel, a very educated member of the Wampanoag tribe, to rescue her. I would have preferred reading about a strong woman who did not need a man to save her; but, those were the times. Peri’s character does not seem well fleshed out; she constantly questions herself, her situation, and what might be happening in the future.

This story is book one in the Pirates and Puritans series. I am not queueing up for the sequel because the story ends unsatisfactorily without closure and the characters are underdeveloped. However, I managed to finish this book primarily because of R. A. Denny’s knowledge of that epoch, and I learned a lot.
16 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2023
A bit too Islamophobic for me.

Generally, I enjoyed the story. One thing that can lessen my enjoyment of a book, however, is the use of one-dimensional characters. The good guys are perfect, or, more often, the bad guys are like comic book villains. The latter is the case here. Ayoub has no redeeming qualities whatsoever … and his part of the plot is large enough to allow some room for character development. I could say the same about Liam. In fact, there’s very little to like about any of the Muslim characters (with one exception, but he appears late in the story, and not for long). This way of portraying adversaries is more at home in the 19th century than in the 21st. In today’s world, the effect is cringe-worthy.
Profile Image for Terrie.
891 reviews22 followers
March 3, 2022
First, thanks so much to the author for contacting me and sharing the book!
2.5 stars rounded up. Though I usually enjoy a good time travel story and the bones of this one are intriguing due to the time period involved, it just never really captured my attention. I found I didn't really care for the writing style - a bit ...... simplistic and uneven, maybe? I appreciated the efforts to describe the Puritan lifestyle but didn't care for Peri's continued inner dialog of "oh woe is me" - it became a bit too repetitive. This one just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Jolie.
1,513 reviews36 followers
July 16, 2021
Review is also at my website: Read With Me (https://readwithme2018.com/2021/07/16...)

I am not a huge fan of time travel books. I have read a few books out of that genre that soured me on them. So, I was a little hesitant to read The Alchemy Thief. What eventually sold me on the book was the alchemy angle.

I am glad that I decided to read The Alchemy Thief. This book was action-packed and full of interesting facts about Colonial Massachusetts and the Barbary Corsairs (which I have rarely read about).

The Alchemy Thief started slow. Usually, I’m not too fond of it when books start slow. But, in this instance, Peri and Ayoub’s backstories needed it. Once the book explained their backstories, then it picked up speed. It stayed at a medium pace throughout the book. Again, I wasn’t bothered by it. The pace fits the book. If it went slower, the storyline would have dragged. If it went faster, then I feel that I would have missed out on some of the backstories. So, the pacing was perfect.

I felt awful for Ayoub’s character and thought that the author did a fantastic job of portraying him. She captured what war and extremism do to children. Ayoub was 10-11 when he was sent back in time. As a mother, I was horrified by what he was exposed to and what he was forced to do. I wanted to reach through the book, scoop him up, and hug him. But, even though he was sent back in time and became a Barbary Corsair, I think it was better than what he went through in modern times. But, as I said earlier, the damage was done, and it shaped him into the man he became later on in the book.

I was kind of “eh” about Experience when she first made an appearance in the book. She was too nice and very naïve. Oh, and trusting. She was very trusting to the point where I wanted to shake her and tell her to get rid of Liam. However, once she was transported back to Colonial Massachusetts, I felt that her character grew by leaps and bounds. She went from being this one-dimensional character to a fully fleshed-out person. I also liked that she forged friendships and relationships while figuring out how she was getting home.

As I mentioned above, the book’s alchemy angle was the reason I chose to read the book. I find alchemy fascinating, and The Alchemy Thief only added to that fascination. In addition, I enjoyed learning how the bodkins were made and how the main characters used them.

There is a romance angle to The Alchemy Thief. There are two main romances. The first one is Peri and Liam. I was 100% against Peri even looking at Liam. He came across as too smarmy. However, my instincts were right about him (the 100 virgins comment made me want to smack him).

The second romance was Peri and Daniel. Talk about a swoon-worthy romance. I loved the instant connection that they had. I also loved that Peri was able to confide in Daniel about where she had come from and what she was trying to do (go home). I also liked that Peri and Daniel’s romance came naturally. There was no Instalove and no instant sex. Instead, Daniel courted Peri and spent time with her.

The time travel angle of the book (which is tied into the alchemy angle) was very well written. I thought it was interesting how Ayoub and Peri were transported back in time. I liked that it was a one way only type deal. Once the main characters used the bodkin, it was gone. I also liked how the author didn’t have Ayoub or Peri give away the future. Well, Ayoub did, but he was written off as having a djinn. Peri was careful to keep her cellphone hidden and to keep up her Puritan facade.

The author had a glossary at the back that detailed the historical events. She also gave definitions to the Native American terms used. I found it helpful and was grateful that she included it.

The end of The Alchemy Thief was interesting. There is a big twist that I did not see coming, and it stunned me. She didn’t wrap up any of the storylines. Instead, with the way she ended the book, I want to read book 2. I need to find out what happens!!

I enjoyed reading The Alchemy Thief. It was engaging and kept my attention glued to my Kindle!!

I would recommend The Alchemy Thief to anyone over the age of 16. The Alchemy Thief is a clean book (no sex). There are some disturbing scenes of a suicide bombing. Ayoub has PTSD and has flashbacks about killing people as a child (he was forced). There is a scene where Peri is forced naked and has a man forcibly check her vagina (she was accused of being a witch).
Profile Image for R.A. Denny.
Author 10 books61 followers
July 26, 2021
The Alchemy Thief is live!

Get your copy today on:

Amazon US> https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094BXYC7G

Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5...

When the secrets of the past threaten to destroy the future.

A tale of hope, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of a woman, this sweeping epic spans the Atlantic from New England to Morocco during the Golden Age of Piracy.

2019: A young woman finds a relic engraved with a mysterious symbol off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Terrorists in Morocco steal a 17th-century book engraved with the same symbol. As the woman struggles to unravel the secrets behind the symbol, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined.

1657: Transported back in time, she meets the alchemist, John Winthrop, Jr. who is plotting to lure the greatest scientific minds to the New World. But the more she learns, the more she fears for the lives of the loved ones she left behind.

In a stunning twist of fate, a modern terrorist has traveled into the past, where he has become a Barbary Corsair. He has plans of his own. And he will stop at nothing to succeed.
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