PhoenixFantasy's Reviews > A Conspiracy of Alchemists

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
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's review
Jan 13, 2013

did not like it
Read from January 13 to 14, 2013

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 doesn’t compare. The ambitious mix of genres didn’t work at all for me, but maybe that’s just because I’m a bit of a Steampunk purist at heart and have little time for fairies and trite romance with hot Warlocks. In fact, if the word “fairy” had been mentioned anywhere in the blurb, I’d have passed on this altogether. It’s too YA for my taste, I struggled to take it seriously. For me it read as the kind of YA that you need to be somewhere around 13 or 14 to properly enjoy.

The main issue I had was that nothing felt authentic here, there were so many little hiccups that I couldn’t lose myself in Schwarz’s world, try as I might. Cafe ‘du’ Aleix? ‘Gov’ a supposed strong cockney accent? And once we get to Oxford..the House Goblins..avoidance thereof, I had flashes of Hermione with her SPEW badges that just wouldn’t shift. They’re all little, inconsequential things, but they amass, and irritate, and this very much wasn’t for me. I mean, the tea thing…pouring tea without giving it even a moment to brew? Yes, dammit, I’m a tea purist as well.

The plot was too simplistic, the romance was too trite, and the world building was too weak for me. Childlike execution is the best way I can think to describe it. I can let one, or even two of the three go if whatever’s left is outstanding, but sadly in this case there was nothing I felt I could engage with. If you like your Paranormal Romance though, and aren’t hardcore Steampunk or haven’t read much around the genre, you might well enjoy this. Sadly, ’twas not for me. My advice would be to save your hard earned and go and buy Soulless instead.
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Reading Progress

74.0% "Ugggh. Not for me at all. Struggling on though."
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kat (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kat Preach it! I am having the same problem, I am reading far to many mediocre books at the moment that sound like masterpieces on the back.

message 2: by Lyndi (new)

Lyndi I'm trying to get into YA, but after reading this review, I'm thinking this book isn't the best place to start. Could you recommend any other YA with a decent steampunk flavor?

PhoenixFantasy Have you looked at the Mortal Engines series at all? I've only read the first but it seemed decent. Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest are 2 of my steam punk favs, although not really YA per se, but Priest's Boneshaker features a 15 yr old protagonist. There was an online comic made in to surprisingly good YA novel, damned if I can remember the name though, agatha h and the something? steamship city maybe? I'll look it up tomorrow (on phone at the mo). There's also Clare's Clockwork Angel, that one's fun :)

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