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A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

A Conspiracy of Alchemists

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I received A Conspiracy of Alchemists as a publisher ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This review can also be found at The Title Page

Rating: 3.5 Stars

A Conspiracy of Alchemists follows air-pilot, Elle, and her warlock companion, Hugh on a quest to find her kidnapped father. Elle discovers that she holds powers she never even imagined in this adventure that takes place in a magical, historical, alternate universe.

This book starts out interestingly enough, pushing us straight into this universe with no explanation. I was able to pick up enough from the setting and character description to figure out some of the mythology going on throughout the book, but it took a while for me to fully understand what was going on. I ended up googling different mythology just to get an image in my head of certain characters.

The characters were very in-depth, I enjoyed the people I was reading about. Consistency could have been better. In the beginning of the novel, Hugh was a hardened gentleman with a snarky attitude but by the end of the book he had turned into a useless boy pining for a girl’s love.

Everything seemed to move slower in this world too. Elle is determined to find her father (who she fears may be dead), but only after she’s had her breakfast. Hugh and Elle travel to Venice to speak to the only people who can help them, but the first thing they do is check into a hotel. Once Elle is kidnapped, Hugh visits a few friends and checks into a hotel for a few days before finally freeing her. They just seem really calm in the situations they’re in. Panic should be their first reaction.

And then, of course, in the end we have the inevitable ‘bad guy reveals entire plan because, hey “you’re going to die anyways”’ cliche, that I did not enjoy from such an original novel. And we wouldn’t miss the Prologue designed only to set up for the next novel. (which I really think it could have done without. This book would have been a great standalone novel, I fear the sequels will only bring it down.)

I was not overly impressed with the novel, but I didn’t hate it. The world building was fascinating, if not a bit overwhelming. It’s a good read, but not the top of my list.

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Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime

Pantomime by Laura Lam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Check out my other book reviews at my blog; The Title Page

Rating: 5 Stars

When books end in a way that makes me hate myself for being alive… I normally hate them in return. I hate the writing, I hate the author, I hate the plot, the characters, the dialogue. Basically, I wish the book had never been written and in that, I had never read it.

I simply cannot bring myself to hate this book. In fact, I can’t do anything but love it. It is simply amazing, and I don’t think I’ve ever read such an original, creative, lovely piece of work.

Pantomime has a little bit of magic, a little bit of steampunk, a little bit of kick-ass, and a whole lot of secrets.

The book follows both Micah Grey, a runaway in search of a new life in the circus, and Gene Laurus, a noble young girl who has yet to find her place in the world. The two come together in the most unexpected of ways, and must hide the fact that they are not what they appear.
The novel is set in Ellada, an alternate society in which magical things can and have happened. Traces of magic are left behind in the cities in the form of Artifacts and giant domes of Penglass, a mysterious material that cannot be removed nor broken.

The world building in this novel is, in the simplest of words, perfect. There is not an overwhelming amount of time spent on describing the setting, but not a lax enough description that we are left completely to our own imaginations. Lam has captured the world that was created in her imagination and presented it to us with such descreet detail and vigor that we do not even notice that we have been transported to another world until we are there entirely.

Micah and Gene’s story’s are intertwined in a way that you would never expect. The author is brave and original in the way her secrets are revealed to us. I never would have guessed when I began reading that something like that would unveil so seamlessly in the novel.

Once you really become a part of the book, it is difficult to put it down. I got to the last few chapters right when I ran out of time to read, and I couldn’t properly focus on anything the rest of the night and into the next morning until I was able to pick the book up once more and let it engulf me.

The way the novel is written is completely original and invigorating. It inspires you to think outside of the box, and come up with creative new ways to tell your own stories.

Yet, throughout the entire novel, we are nagged with reminders that all of this is part of something bigger yet to come. By the end of the book, plot lines are left open to be elaborated on in the future of the series. There is so much left open and, while you have a small inkling of where this story may be headed, there is a plethora of ways it could be taken. I eagerly await the upcoming sequels and strongly urge new readers to take on this book. You’ll learn so much about yourself and open bits of your imagination that you never even knew you had.

I applaud Laura Lam for such an amazing debut novel.

I recommend this book for: People who enjoy any or all of the following: Steampunk, science fiction, mystery, circus’s, great novels.
Favorite character: Aenea and Micah
Least favorite character: Bil

P.S. The memory of the last solid copy book I purchased doesn’t even grace my mind, but (even though I’ve read it already) I guarantee that this one will be the next.

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Filed under Pantomime Laura Lam steampunk science fiction mystery circus great book kick-ass secrets