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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Review - The Accidental Alchemist

From the author of Jaya Jones series (book 1 Artifact review-click here) comes a new paranormal cozy series described as Agatha Christie meets Stranger Things.  I just discovered this series and jumped at the chance to review it.

Author: Gigi Pandian

Copyright: October 2020 (Gargoyle Girl Productions) 362 pgs

Series: 1st in An Accidental Alchemist Mystery series

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal cozy, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: 345 year old Zoe Faust, alchemist 

Setting: Contemporary era, Portland Oregan

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "A chance for a new beginning in Portland, Oregon. A stowaway from Paris who’s slowly turning to stone. And an alchemical mystery neither can refuse.

Unpacking her belongings in her new fixer-upper house, alchemist Zoe Faust discovers a stowaway. Dorian is a living, breathing gargoyle―not to mention a master of French cuisine―and he needs Zoe's expertise to unlock the secrets of a centuries-old text that may save his life.

Zoe is trying to put her old life behind her, but how can she say no to her new friend who’s turning to stone?  [The problem is, the alchemical book that can save Dorian from remaining alive yet trapped in stone has been stolen and a man left murdered on Zoe's doorstep.]"

The main character is Zoe Faust, a very reluctant alchemist who has 345 years worth of emotional baggage from the Salem witch trials to the tragic death of loved ones, and is a die-hard vegan.  Dorian is an actual live gargoyle from Paris who is a gourmet cook, has the ability to hide in plain sight by turning back to stone, has extraordinary night vision, and is the side kick who runs off without thinking through consequences.  Detective Max Liu is potentially a romantic interest in future books. Brixton is a fourteen year old who broke into Zoe's house (the neighborhood haunted house) on a dare and is a troubled kid who sees Dorian and wants to tell his friends. Zoe somehow befriends him in spite of his resistance.

The plot is three fold.  Find the missing book and save Dorian by investigating who murdered the would-be handyman.  But even if Zoe gets the book back, she has ignored alchemy for so long she also needs to flex her alchemical muscles and get her mojo back.  I will admit that at times the momentum slowed in the storyline. Where many cozy mysteries often bring up food, this goes into Dorian making vegan gourmet meals.  I know some find that tedious.  But that didn't seem to dampen my interest in the story.

 The killer reveal had a little danger and excitement and was appropriate in the storyline, but I like them more thrilling. Just a personal preference and not a reflection on the story.  The wrap-up dealt with Dorian's situation and sets up for the next book.

I particularly liked the alchemy lore and history. It is fascinating and far better presented than in other stories that had alchemy in them.  great job there.  I also enjoyed the use of the tunnel network under Portland in the story. I understand that some people felt the vegan element was overdone, but I didn't feel it was too much. But please take that into consideration.  

Rating: Good - entertaining story with fun paranormal touches

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Mystica said...

A new author and book for me. That cover is certainly intriguing.

A.F. Heart said...

I was delighted to come across it. I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. So happy to share it with others.

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