Krista Reviews: Liesl Schwartz's - "A Conspiracy of Alchemists"
*Recommended for mature teens and adults
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 transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.
Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.
But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Del Rey (first published January 29th 2013)
Elle, an airship pilot, thinks that she is doing her friend Patrice a favor. But her trip to Paris goes horribly wrong. She loses her package before making it back to the ship and then finds out that her father has been kidnapped by the Alchemists. A lost parcel, a broken ship, and a man who has decided he must protect her and help her find her father; Elle is in for a shock as her life is about to change.
This was the first time in a long time that I felt the author got Steampunk aspect completely right. The gadgets, airships, automatons were fascinating and leave such an impression that the story would not be the same without them. My absolute favourite character was the absinthe fairy who takes an interest in Elle and even narrates parts of the story.
Elle is a pretty spunky character. She is used to an independent life flying her airship, carrying weapons, and the comfort of her home life with her inventor father and predictable long-time house keeper.
When Mr Marsh comes into her life and now tells her that he knew her mother, and can help her get her father back, she reluctantly agrees to his patronage and accompanies him across Europe, by air and by train putting together the mysteries of the Alchemists and their connection to the scientist.
The world-building is very imaginative and entertaining. The reader will get their fill of warlocks, nightwalkers, alchemists, magic, oracles and science. With an absinthe fairy who narrates between chapters, sky pirates and the fight for the balance of Light and Shadow, this story was fun, exciting and at times romantic.