My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
An enchanting read!
A Conspiracy of Alchemists really is a book that encompasses many genres: steampunk, historical fiction, romance, paranormal, fantasy, mystery, adventure… Where else can you find absinthe fairies, Alchemists, Warlocks, ancient goddesses, dirigibles, gyrocopters, Paris, Constantinople, The Shadow World, heartwarming romance and a good old-fashioned adventure?
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. I went solely on the title + cover, and the mention of Alchemists in combination with the Eiffel Tower were enough to convince me to give this a chance. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was really pleased with the book overall.
The story takes place in a steampunk 1903, beginning in Paris and moving through Venice, Vienna, and Constantinople. In this world, there are two sides: Light and Shadow, which separated during the dark ages. The Light side is ruled by science, and uses electromancy (a form of electricity) as power. The Shadow side is where fairies, warlocks, and alchemists live. They use older magics, in combination with science-magic combinations (such as alchemy). But there’s a fragile balance between the two sides, and neither seems to be interested in bothering much with the other… or do they?
Elle Chance is a dirigible pilot who’s been given the mission of transporting some special cargo: a locked box, and a man. Hugh Marsh, a.k.a. a nobleman, is the cargo Elle is tasked with transporting in her blimp. From the start, there is a delightful chemistry between the two, which was really fun to read. Elle also has a diamond bracelet, within which a fairy is trapped.
During her and Marsh’s adventure, she discovers some formidable information about her own true nature, as well as his. My greatest enjoyment in this book, aside from the romance, was the exciting and interesting world-building. This was my first time reading a steampunk-ish book, and I loved it. But the way that the elements of magic, ancient myth, scientific discovery, and the paranormal were all interwoven was really unique.
From the ending, I hope that there will be more of the story to come. It wraps up nicely, yet leaves room for more. Really excited to read more by Liesel Schwarz!
Thank you to the publishers, who through NetGalley allowed me to read this advance copy of the book!