ARC Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
ARC Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
A Conspiracy of Alchemists

3.5 Stars

Book Info

Released: March 5, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Chronicles of Light & Shadow #1
Published by Del Rey
Pages: 36
Format: ARC

“This series is definitely one to look out for.  I’m very curious as to where the story can go from here.  It has so much potential and I’ll be reading the next book for sure.” ~Under the Covers

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover.  I saw a huge posted at the Del Rey booth at Comic Con last year and immediately wanted to buy it, only to find out it wasn’t coming out until this year.

Could it be one of those cases where the cover misled me?  Just a little.  Even though the cover is very much representative of the story.  And the story was very interesting.  It just fell a little flat in some parts.

I’m a little confused as to how to classify the book to begin with.  It is definitely historical but it’s not historical romance.  There’s paranormal elements (the alchemists, absint fairies, warlocks and such) but it’s not a paranormal romance.  Even though there is a romance.  And although some might consider this a bit steampunk, I think I’ll go with an urban fantasy.  It best describes the series, just know that the other elements are mixed in as well.

That being said, we have a strong heroine.  Elle is a pilot.  A female pilot at the turn of the 20th century.  She doesn’t normally walk around with gowns and pretty dresses.  She’s unconventional, opinionated, loyal and passionate.  She loves her family and her job.  My kind of heroine.  She’s stubborn but also realist.  She didn’t necessarily go with the flow and questioned things along the way, just like you would expect her to do.

She is asked to transport a box from London to France, without knowing what it contains.  She soon finds herself taking a couple of extra passengers on that trip.  One of those a sexy and rich guy who turns out to be a warlock. Now she has the Alchemist enemies after her.

Marsh was alluring enough to peak my interest and I can see there’s potential for me to really like him in the next book.  He immediately recognizes something in her that is not fully plain human but has to bide his time to get her to come to terms with that and find out what it is.  The sexual tension wasn’t as thick as it could’ve been but it was nice to be able to see into both Marsh and Elle’s heads to find out how they were feeling.  Otherwise, I would’ve never known there was an attraction!

As Marsh and Elle go through France and Venice to find her father, who was kidnapped before she got back home, they get in all kinds of trouble and meet interesting characters.  The plot has twists that I definitely didn’t expect, which was also nice to see.  I did not expect Elle to turn out to be what she did.

Setting this story in the era she did was a perfect choice.  I felt the actual time period and places where as much a character in the story as the actual characters.  It added an extra appeal that worked for me.

However, I do feel that this book suffered from first book syndrome.  Not in a way of info dump like many do, just that the story could’ve been a lot more pulse-pounding than it was.  But not only is this the first book in this series, but the author’s debut.  This series is definitely one to look out for.  I’m very curious as to where the story can go from here.  It has so much potential and I’ll be reading the next book for sure.

*ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley

Did you like this review? If so, please tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

About Liesel Schwarz

Liesel Schwarz writes fiction. A life-long fan of 19th Century Gothic literature, she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the Fin de Siècle, and the correct way to drink absinthe.

She also likes Medieval stuff, pirates, zombies, space operas and all subjects in between. She is also currently busy with her doctorate in English and Creative Writing at Brunel University.

She lives in London in the United Kingdom and is definitely a cat person.


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Lori Meehan

Thanks Francesca


Thanks for the review Francesca!