Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
Genre: Adult-Steampunk (Major YA crossover potential here)
Description from Goodreads: LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.
In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun.
When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.
Review: In theory, A Conspiracy of Alchemists has all the elements of a book I should love. And I did like quite a bit of it. But there were several issues that kept this from being a favorite of mine. I’ll get to those in a minute, but first I need to applaud the author for getting all things steampunk right. No, seriously. Some books claim they are steampunk but there is very little actual steampunk in the novel. This book has airships, automatons, sky pirates, bad-ass inventions, appropriate fashions, and all manner of other things. And lots of tea. Because tea is awesome, you know.
What this book is is a mash-up of paranormal and steampunk. It’s detailed (but not overly detailed), and filled with gorgeous imagery and sense of place. I adored the flow of the writing and the author’s word choices. The paranormal creatures are interesting and added some exciting spice to the story. I have quite a soft spot for the absinthe fairy named Adele.
Elle Chance is an airship pilot. And she is pretty skilled and awesome at it. She gets into a bit of trouble though when a man named Marsh comes into her life and her inventor father is kidnapped. From there, it is a race to save her father, face her true destiny, and stop the alchemists from blending shadow and light and taking over the world.
Elle is strong, but she is stubborn. And…there were times she got on my nerves. One of my least favorite plot devices is when a character tries to tell another character something important, but they refuse to hear it just to drag out the plot. That happened in this book when Marsh tried to tell Elle something about her destiny but she was too stubborn to listen and she stormed off. Okay, no. That is sooo frustrating as a reader, and in my honest opinion, is completely lazy writing. It only happened once, but it was enough for me to knock off a half star.
And then I also had issues with the pacing. Or plot events, rather. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but there were a couple of times when I got bored because I thought there was excessive dialogue and not much was going on. There were quite a few conversations that I felt could have been shortened up. There were even some characters that were introduced that I felt could have been left out of the plot entirely. It just moved a bit to slow for me. I like my dialogue very balanced in my books and it was just a bit too much. I wanted the plot tightened up a bit.
That said, now that it is a couple of days since I have finished, I have come to the conclusion that I liked this book a little better than I thought I did. And the main reason is Elle. I simply liked her personality. Except for that one incident I mentioned, I liked how determined she was in everything she did. She’s a memorable heroine. Flawed but not unlikable. And not only was she memorable, but so was the world that Liesl Schwartz created. She managed to introduce some historical events to the narrative and it brought some brilliant realism to the story.
I wished I like this book as much as many of my friends have, but I did still like it even though it wasn’t a favorite. I’m not sure if I will be sticking around for the sequel, but I think I might. It all entirely depends on what the book is about, and as of now there is no blurb. If you are a fan of steampunk and strong world-building, I would recommend A Conspiracy of Alchemists for you.
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