I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Series: Dark Alchemy #1
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse on March 24th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Also by this author: Nine of Stars, Witch Creek
Stephen King's The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle's novel Dark Alchemy.
Some secrets are better left buried …
Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming seeking clues to her father's disappearance years ago. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up—desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain—her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast—or die next.
Petra Dee is a woman running from the past and all the memories that haunt her dreams. She seeks distraction in the form of small-town Temperance, Wyoming where her father was last heard of years past and she intends on searching for him. This small-town is far from ordinary and she quickly realizes that law enforcement has no hold on the town but instead local land owner Sal Rutherford seems to be the one in control. There’s another powerful man that goes by the name of The Alchemist who seems to aid in the areas drug habit. Petra quickly ends up right in the dangerous path of both Sal and The Alchemist when she uncovers a magical artifact that is somehow tied to both men and the mysterious story behind the origins of this mysterious small-town.
Alchemy is the reason surrounding this strange towns existence and involves a mysterious figure by the name of Lascaris that during the Gold Rush, as rumor has it, figured out how to transform simple rocks into gold. His experiments were conducted in secret and he was never questioned since he was the sole reason the town was thriving, so why question anything when it’s working so well? After his supposed death in a mysterious fire, new figures rose in hope to take his place. Sal Rutherford, who currently owns the land where The Lunaria, the Alchemical Tree of Life, resides (in addition to the undead ranch hands that call themselves The Hanged Men) and Stroud/The Alchemist, a man that can trace his lineage back to Lascaris himself. The aspects of alchemy were explained sufficiently and incorporated well into the story, however, as the story drew to a close it lacked a necessary conviction when it came time for solid answers.
This one generated a lot of discussion for me when all was said and done and there is much to love but also much that left me in confusion. First and foremost, Sig the coyote, Petra’s “animal familiar” was the true highlight of this story for me. Sig possessed more personality than some of the side characters without having to say a single word. He was her first ally in Temperance and he quickly took to her and became her self-appointed guardian before she even knew she needed help. He became incredibly docile by the end and as much as I loved his addition to the story it did seem incredibly unlikely. Still, this story would not have been the same without Sig. There were many other additional loose ends that I felt should have been addressed, most are spoilery so I’ll avoid going into detail. Whether this is because the author wanted to leave some things in the ‘unknown’ so as to maybe turn the story into a series I’m not sure but this being the start of a new series seems like a definite possibility.
Possessing an interesting blend of mystery and magic, Dark Alchemy is an eerie and most inventive tale that kept me completely spellbound.