Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Title: A Conspiracy of Alchemists Image

Author: Liesel Schwarz

Rating: ★

Provided Synopsis: 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.

Review: Meet Elle Chance – a young, stubborn, and independent minded English woman with a love of flying machines. As a pilot she is often employed to carry cargo from the continent over the Channel. On the most significant job to date she goes to Paris, meets up with an old friend, and is given a task. Elle is to take a wooden box into her possession and keep keep it safe. As payment she is given a diamond bracelet to wear. What follows is a journey across Europe as she goes in search of the father who is abducted under mysterious circumstances before her arrival home, along with the unraveling of Elle’s past and destiny. 

My biggest problem with this book is that it is set-up to leave the reader in the dark at the beginning. I did not understand the world that Elle lives in. Apparently it is an element of steampunk (and I’ll be honest when I say that I continue to be uncertain about what that even means) and the paranormal. There is a clash between the realms of Shadow and Light, but it is never really explained until about 150 pages into the story. There were so many times that I considered abandoning this book because I did not understand it. To make the world even more convoluted there is also elements of mythology, for an Oracle is very important to the story and the energy of this world. 

If you feel as if I am doing a bad job explaining then that is because the author never clearly explained things to me. 

I tried to go for the ride with this book but I don’t believe that I found it enjoyable. Confusion is a major turn-off for me when it comes to stories, as is the addition of far too many paranormal elements. I mean, the main love interest was a Warlock who is part of a council that is in competition with the scientific revolution to maintain their energy? What was the purpose of the final conspiracy, and did it even have a lasting impact? Unless you have an extreme fetish for steampunk paranormal then I would leave this book on whatever shelf you happen to find it.


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