|Title: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Author: Liesel Schwarz
Format & Pages: Hardcover, 336
Publication: Del Rey, 2013
When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.
Discover the thrilling new series that transforms the elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance into pure storytelling goal.”
A Conspiracy of Alchemists is Liesel Schwarz’s breakout novel and what a breakout it is. As a note I do not read too much steampunk, so I don’t know how original the actual plot and world is. That being said, I really enjoyed the world that Schwarz created and the characters that inhabit it.
To start off with, the characters are varied and defined. Elle is an independent woman who knows what she wants. While she is a woman of some standing in society, her want to fly and stubbornness has led to her leaving the life of a society woman. Throughout the course of the novel, she has to struggle to come to terms with what she is, which shows another side of Elle that she does not expose to the public. Mr. Marsh, the enigmatic and hunky wealthy man that causes the mess that Elle finds herself in, is wonderfully rounded. Not only is he knowledgeable and charismatic, but we know that he is keeping secrets from Elle. Both characters have diverse personality traits that really shine. They are both endearing in their own way, with Marsh growing on me more and more as the story progressed. The secondary characters are as well developed as the main, leading the story to have a very life-like and robust quality about it.
The story itself is told from a few point of views. The primary one is Elle. We see the world through her eyes and know of her inner turmoil. The other main point of view, and really an enlightening one, is a small absinthe fairy that has stowed away in a bracelet that will not come off of Elle’s wrist. This really gives us a view into what is happening underneath the surface during Elle’s adventure. We also get a bit about Elle’s enemies, and towards the end of the novel, we get to spend time with Marsh.
The plot is relatively straightforward and simple, but Schwarz throws in quite a bit of twists that really kept me on the edge of my seat. The story pulled me in from the very first page and the intrigue built from there. I never wanted to put the book down. Even when I had to, the story stayed on my mind, constantly whispering to come back. As I said before, I don’t know if the story is entirely original since this is really the first steampunk novel that I have read. I do know that the inclusion of absinthe as a common drink and fairies that survive off of it was very nice and original, in my opinion. It was a really creative touch.