The Alchemist of Souls, Anne Lyle. Published by Angry Robot. (Yes, the publisher name is real—ain’t it great?)
Buying a new author is always interesting. The last time I went to the store, I picked up two that were not only new to me, but new to publishing. Oddly enough, the publishers were new to me as well. I thought I knew most of the Fantasy publishers but apparently not. One was a total waste of time & money, and due to the rules I will not devote any more time to it here. Unless I inadvertently pick it up again and go on a rant about how new authors should NEVER be paired up with inexperienced editors.
Thankfully, I had a lot more luck with The Alchemist of Souls. Oh lord almighty, did I have more luck with this one. Set in the latter years of Queen Elizabeth the first’s reign, it is an alternate history/reality that pulls you in gradually. It didn’t pull me in by the neck from the get go, but it started out solid and only got better.
Mal has a lot of problems. He has a twin in Bedlam, whom he can’t protect. A best friend he can’t trust. A job he doesn’t want, until he does. And way more going on over his head than he can get a handle on quickly. Set among theatres, the infamous Tower, and court, this novel takes you places. The details in the theatre and mannerisms among the troupe were riveting. As a girl with a Master’s Degree in English and more than a few semesters spent with Shakespeare, I hate it when people take on this particular era then get it wrong.
But when they get it right, as does Lyle, it is so lovely. Those details were so good, in fact, that the fantasy element (Skraylings, magic), were completely believable within the story. That takes true talent.
Now on to the publisher! Yes, I know, it is rarely advisable to take on a publisher based on one book. However! I finished Alchemist while in a doctor’s waiting room and read the back jacket copy (don’t ask why I didn’t do it to begin with, it’ll make your head hurt). Love the little sign up on top of it. Then, while flipping through the book, came across a surprise quote on the back inside cover of the book. Oh! And the ad for the other books? I love their tag line “wake eat read sleep repeat.”
They get it.
Now I just got to figure out how to get my hands on more of the same from them!
Sweet reading, my lovelies!