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In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold. With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Se In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold. With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Sepha escapes with her life – but at a cost: she has one year to alchemically create a body for the magician, or else her firstborn child will be his. As Sepha’s deadline approaches, she uncovers a deadly secret. How can she save her country when the body she owes the magician will be used to destroy it?


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In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold. With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Se In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold. With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Sepha escapes with her life – but at a cost: she has one year to alchemically create a body for the magician, or else her firstborn child will be his. As Sepha’s deadline approaches, she uncovers a deadly secret. How can she save her country when the body she owes the magician will be used to destroy it?

30 review for The Lady Alchemist

  1. 4 out of 5

    kath | novel + folk

    This was a fast-paced, clever, steampunk Rumplestiltskin retelling full of twists and surprises and totally worthy of devouring in one sitting. There were so many moments when the author’s prose just ascends to another level of beauty and it was a sight to behold. It was well plotted and full of action and fantastic world-building, alchemy and magic - all working together to keep me frantically turning pages. This is a book to lose yourself in for a few hours, yet will stay with you for a long ti This was a fast-paced, clever, steampunk Rumplestiltskin retelling full of twists and surprises and totally worthy of devouring in one sitting. There were so many moments when the author’s prose just ascends to another level of beauty and it was a sight to behold. It was well plotted and full of action and fantastic world-building, alchemy and magic - all working together to keep me frantically turning pages. This is a book to lose yourself in for a few hours, yet will stay with you for a long time afterwards. I particularly loved Nadya and Ruhen, and how unproblematic and s w e e t they were. It was refreshing to witness how their relationship unfolds when most YA these days is more concerned with redeeming villains than appreciating the ones who’ve stuck by from the beginning. Read this one if you love retellings with a twist, compelling characters, and dark steampunk vibes. 4.5 stars And 5++++ stars to the most gorgeous cover ever. Early copy gifted by the author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sagan

    review coming soon!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Vitale

    (Well, I like it)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    That cover tho? Love it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Rojem

    I received this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review here and on my blog Samwise Reviews. I loved every minute of this. From the second I realized it was a Rumpelstiltskin adaptation, I was hooked. The story started with that, but it was So. Much. More. It had romance and adventure and friendship and magic and drama and hardship and just everything. It was a delicious ride to the very end, and I was demanding a sequel before I was even half way through. Some parts of it were a bit of I received this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review here and on my blog Samwise Reviews. I loved every minute of this. From the second I realized it was a Rumpelstiltskin adaptation, I was hooked. The story started with that, but it was So. Much. More. It had romance and adventure and friendship and magic and drama and hardship and just everything. It was a delicious ride to the very end, and I was demanding a sequel before I was even half way through. Some parts of it were a bit of a predictable YA trope (which I enjoy and find comforting) but parts of it caught me off guard and I didn't see coming (which I also enjoy). Overall, one of my favorite things I've read in a while and I greatly look forward to other work by this author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Goicea

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Month 9 Books, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review. RTC later today! My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Month 9 Books, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review. RTC later today! My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mable (the-forest-library)

    What an outstanding debut! This book is a fast-paced wild ride from start to finish, with so many reveals that I never saw coming. Amazing world building with such interesting characters; I especially loved Destry. Rumpelstiltskin has never been my favorite fairy tale, but I enjoyed this magical and alchemical take on it much more than the other retelling I’ve read (Spinning Silver).

  8. 5 out of 5

    SanWa Library

    4 of 5 stars!! I did my full honest review at my booktube channel and my blog. See you there. 4 of 5 stars!! I did my full honest review at my booktube channel and my blog. See you there.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liv | Books to Liv by

    HEA: (view spoiler)[ Not yet (hide spoiler)] “Not every mother wants to be a mother. Not every mother wants all of her children. Not every mother cares enough to pretend she does.” Before diving into this novel, I had no idea what alchemy really entailed and which kinds of laws it abided by. But the more I read about, the more I annotated –the more intrigued I became. Vitale’s story might be labeled as a retelling of the The Rumpelstiltskin, but to me, it felt like something new –born ex n HEA: (view spoiler)[ Not yet (hide spoiler)] “Not every mother wants to be a mother. Not every mother wants all of her children. Not every mother cares enough to pretend she does.” Before diving into this novel, I had no idea what alchemy really entailed and which kinds of laws it abided by. But the more I read about, the more I annotated –the more intrigued I became. Vitale’s story might be labeled as a retelling of the The Rumpelstiltskin, but to me, it felt like something new –born ex novo. Something she came up with after many years worth of plotting and researching. Sepha, the alchemist who’s asked to achieve an impossible goal, will certainly be seen as "the heroine" of this story but to me, she was a symbol. For all the people who have survived an abusive childhood with their sanity intact –thanks to a dream that preserved their heart and humanity. And yes, she wasn’t exactly an easy person to read about. But who would have been... in her shoes? Vitale’s portrayal of psychological abuse and its lifelong consequences was extremely on point. And I will never cease to thank her for this. Ruhen, the man who helped Sepha throughout her journey, was the sweetest hero I could have hoped for. Water to her fire. Discipline to her rage. My favorite things about this book? Its mysterious nature, the world-building, the ACADEMIC environment and of course, Vitale’s prose –flawless and polished. The time she took to build the bones of her novel led to a world made of atmospheric and symbolic details that kept me on my toes for days. ⠀ I am still wondering about that final page. I am still thinking about that kiss. ⠀ 5 stars. Disclaimer : Thank you to the Publishing House and the author for gifting me this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book was fun, fast-paced, and intense, and that epilogue may have actually killed me? It’s a retelling of a well-known fairy tale, but the world was so unique and I can’t wait to explore it some more!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    What a hidden gem! This book seriously needs more recognition! I was honestly blown away by the wonderful, intriguing storytelling. The Lady Alchemist has hints of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (I don't know much about the original fairy tale), but with alchemy and magicians and necromancers. The character development and world building are fantastic. I felt truly immersed into the story and I was rooting for Sepha the whole way (though, I found her snide inner voice to be a bit distracting and unn What a hidden gem! This book seriously needs more recognition! I was honestly blown away by the wonderful, intriguing storytelling. The Lady Alchemist has hints of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (I don't know much about the original fairy tale), but with alchemy and magicians and necromancers. The character development and world building are fantastic. I felt truly immersed into the story and I was rooting for Sepha the whole way (though, I found her snide inner voice to be a bit distracting and unnecessary at times). I definitely felt like the ending was left a little open. Samantha tied everything up nicely, but that epilogue...! What?! You can't just leave it like that! I highly recommend this book. It's adventurous, magical, romantic. It's great, go read it! Thank you LibraryThing and Month9Books for providing me an e-ARC to read and honestly review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty ~ Paper Hearts Ink

    I really enjoyed this book! Some great concepts and I thought Sepha was a brilliant lead. I really liked her tenacity. She had a great character arc from start to finish. Ruhen was wonderful! I loved their interactions and how their relationship grew over the course of the story. There were so many sweet moments. Destry was one of my favourite characters, I super liked her and enjoyed her friendship with Sepha. I also really liked/hated Henrik. I thought the plot was well paced and the world buil I really enjoyed this book! Some great concepts and I thought Sepha was a brilliant lead. I really liked her tenacity. She had a great character arc from start to finish. Ruhen was wonderful! I loved their interactions and how their relationship grew over the course of the story. There were so many sweet moments. Destry was one of my favourite characters, I super liked her and enjoyed her friendship with Sepha. I also really liked/hated Henrik. I thought the plot was well paced and the world building was great. Will probably reread when my physical copy arrives next month. I mean that cover is just stunning! Great ending and I’m really looking forward to the next book. Thanks to the author and publisher for the gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating more like 4.5 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Di

    I read this book with my fellow ApoCalypsos and as always, it was a fun buddy read. I found it very unfortunate that I couldn't love this book. There were so many elements that should have made this at least a four star for me, and yet the execution failed to 'wow' me. I was frustrated with the protagonists, found the plot to be too predictable and in all honesty struggled to find some connection to draw me in. I never got lost in reading this - I was always able to read too critically without j I read this book with my fellow ApoCalypsos and as always, it was a fun buddy read. I found it very unfortunate that I couldn't love this book. There were so many elements that should have made this at least a four star for me, and yet the execution failed to 'wow' me. I was frustrated with the protagonists, found the plot to be too predictable and in all honesty struggled to find some connection to draw me in. I never got lost in reading this - I was always able to read too critically without just reading for pure enjoyment. Firstly, this is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (which was SUPER exciting for me since I do love retellings and Rumpelstiltskin is definitely a required fairytale retelling). Then there was the fact that ALCHEMY was being included which I also loved - I haven't read that many YA fantasies with alchemy. Unfortunately I needed to know more to flesh out the magic system. While intriguing, I felt like alchemy (which was actually explained quite well and had quite strict rules and a good system) and then magic (which absolutely cannot mix with alchemy - except when it does....) was just not executed as well as it could have been and the actual system of magic itself was left very open ended. Sepha, the main character, was the character I felt like the author spent the most time on and her backstory and history were well fleshed out. While I couldn't connect with her on any level, I could sympathise with her toxic upbringing and abusive father. Ruhen, who was clearly the love interest from the outset, was a sweet character but that was as deep as it went for me. He had the obligatory mysterious past and a withheld secret, but again, those cliches were just too clumsy and predictable. The romance relied heavily on a poorly executed soulmate bond tether that mystically appeared between the two characters and this made it really difficult for me to find any chemistry and I found I just couldn't board that ship. Henric was another character who infuriated me because he seemed to vacillate between being an absolute jerk and a poorly hidden "bad guy". My favourite character was Destry - a strong female determined to forge her own path in her world, no matter how much baggage she had to carry and how many responsibilities were on her shoulders. I enjoyed the homunculi and the way the author handled how they are made, used and abused. Again though, there were issues - mostly pacing issues and reveals were pretty heavy handed. I really wanted to love this one unfortunately it all boiled down to execution. I'm not saying that you won't enjoy it, please if it interests you give it a try - there's definitely a lot to enjoy - however without finding my own personal connection I just saw too many flaws.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Wolf

    I am impressed by this first effort by Samantha Vitale. The narrative had a few stops and sputters in the first half of the book, but then I was drawn in by the growing relationships between the characters, keeping me hooked until the end. The story is a modern retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, made relevant for the YA and Fantasy novel audiences. Samantha has created a whole new world here with her broad imagination and she fills in many details, yet leaves us looking forward to reading more in fut I am impressed by this first effort by Samantha Vitale. The narrative had a few stops and sputters in the first half of the book, but then I was drawn in by the growing relationships between the characters, keeping me hooked until the end. The story is a modern retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, made relevant for the YA and Fantasy novel audiences. Samantha has created a whole new world here with her broad imagination and she fills in many details, yet leaves us looking forward to reading more in future books of this series. At least, I hope there'll be more!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    A wonderful cover buy. I begins very much as a Rumplestiltskin retelling, spinning straw into gold and the cost being the firstborn daughter, but soon evolves into its own wonderful thing. The divide between Alchemy and Magic leads the conflict, with a good dose of romance which is sweet and precious. The characters continue to develop over the course of the story, and we are introduced to my favourite character, the Homunculus Theo. This book needs a sequel just for more Theo, he is the most prec A wonderful cover buy. I begins very much as a Rumplestiltskin retelling, spinning straw into gold and the cost being the firstborn daughter, but soon evolves into its own wonderful thing. The divide between Alchemy and Magic leads the conflict, with a good dose of romance which is sweet and precious. The characters continue to develop over the course of the story, and we are introduced to my favourite character, the Homunculus Theo. This book needs a sequel just for more Theo, he is the most precious character I have read in ages. Highly recommend this book

  16. 4 out of 5

    Baiba Murray

    I was hooked almost immediately and the twists and turns kept me guessing. I had a hard time putting this one down. The character development was amazing and there were such unique elements that I just adored. There were even scenes that created such a sensory experience, I loved it. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Permanently_Booked

    I haven't come across many retellings based on Rumplestiltskin and I was not dissapointed with this twist. This novel takes that tale and adds a hefty helping of alchemy and magic. It was so well done. Sepha is a strong and flawed character. Coming from an abusive home, she's struggled through reading issues and the loss of her mother to be one of the top self taught alchemists in her town. She can do what most alchemists cannot. When the magistrate comes to town to see Sepha's alchemy, everythi I haven't come across many retellings based on Rumplestiltskin and I was not dissapointed with this twist. This novel takes that tale and adds a hefty helping of alchemy and magic. It was so well done. Sepha is a strong and flawed character. Coming from an abusive home, she's struggled through reading issues and the loss of her mother to be one of the top self taught alchemists in her town. She can do what most alchemists cannot. When the magistrate comes to town to see Sepha's alchemy, everything that can possibly go wrong does. In her haste to rectify the issue she overstates her skills and says she can turn anything into anything just give her one more chance. And so the story unfolds where she is tasked to change straw into gold and the unwanted aid of an evil magician (trapped in the body of a homunculus) seals the contract for her first born. But that's just the short synopsis. In this world magicians are evil. Alchemy and magic should never mix and the magistrate happens to have a twin sister doing sinister experiments with soul alchemy. There's a growing love story between Sepha and Ruhen and learning how to trust her new comrades as she strives to break the contract. I REALLY hope there is another book coming. The ending wrapped up the first half perfectly but it definitely had an epilogue with a cliffhanger. I'm so ready for more. Reader warning: abuse and criminals tortured in the name of science Thank you to Month9Books and LibraryThing for the opportunity to read and review this ebook for an honest and unbiased opinion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maria Drolet

    Definitely worth it! I was hooked by the first few paragraphs and couldn’t stop reading it until I’d read through the night and was finished. Great characters, story, tempo and world building. Some authors just have that “it” factor and Samantha Vitale has “it” and then some. I will be reading whatever else she writes.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lakeshia

    Sepha is a talented alchemist who lives in a small town with her strict and abusive father. One fateful day sets off a chain of events that changes her life forever. Along with meeting supportive friends, they also protect a secret that even Sepha is not aware of herself. For me, the book started off a bit slow, but there was tons of back story that helped as the plot went along. Sepha's character is well written and I enjoyed seeing her development along the way. The magic system is unique and Sepha is a talented alchemist who lives in a small town with her strict and abusive father. One fateful day sets off a chain of events that changes her life forever. Along with meeting supportive friends, they also protect a secret that even Sepha is not aware of herself. For me, the book started off a bit slow, but there was tons of back story that helped as the plot went along. Sepha's character is well written and I enjoyed seeing her development along the way. The magic system is unique and probably one of my most favorite things about reading this book, aside from the Sepha and Ruhen dynamic. The writer was really great at drawing up the relationship of Sepha and Ruhen. The fact that we knew Sepha's thoughts about why she was keeping the relationship at arm's length is what made it devastating, but in the greatest way. 

  20. 5 out of 5

    Decourcy Williams

    Even with my love of magic and magicians, this book makes me want to also become an alchemist. It is an incredible read from start to finish. I feel like it only gives a sneak peak into this world and it leaves you wanting more. I felt the gamut of emotions all through out this one! Excellent read and cannot wait for the sequel!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Habiger

    The Lady Alchemist starts out with a well known fairy tale premise, inspired almost directly from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and is blended with the anime show Full Metal Alchemist. Sepha is a young woman with a skill at alchemy - transforming one material into another using complex drawings (called alchems) to achieve the transformation. But when a demonstration for the Magistrate goes awry, Sepha tries to fix the problem by claiming that she can transform anything into anything. The Magistrat The Lady Alchemist starts out with a well known fairy tale premise, inspired almost directly from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and is blended with the anime show Full Metal Alchemist. Sepha is a young woman with a skill at alchemy - transforming one material into another using complex drawings (called alchems) to achieve the transformation. But when a demonstration for the Magistrate goes awry, Sepha tries to fix the problem by claiming that she can transform anything into anything. The Magistrate takes up her offer and orders Sepha to transform straw into gold by morning or be killed. It is an impossible task, but Sepha is saved by the appearance of a magician who offers to do the transformation for her, in exchange for Sepha's first born child. Sepha knows that magicians are evil, but she agrees to the bargain thinking she can find a way out of the magical contract before the magician's deadline. The magician turns the straw into gold, and so begins Sepha's journey into a wider world that she thought she knew but is filled with mystery, intrigue, and dangers she is not prepared for. As the story begins, the comparison to Rumpelstiltskin is unmistakable, and probably clearly intended by Samantha Vitale. I would presume that the comparison with Full Metal Alchemist is also intended, or at least is there as a nod to that manga/anime. And so as I read the story I was not expecting much beyond those basic comparisons. But the more I read, the more Samantha surprised me, adding new twists to the story and hidden depths to the characters. The more I read, the more that my outlook on The Lady Alchemist changed. I found the world-building interesting, and how the idea of alchemy (in the pseudo-magical way that it is portrayed) and actual magic function and mix. The story goes beyond a simple retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. My largest concern about the story has to do with Sepha. In the beginning of the story she's described as a alchemist savant, able to do things no other alchemists can do. But we are never shown her skills - at least not to that degree. The big presentation for the Magistrate is foiled, and she is unable to perform the impossible task of turning straw to gold. As she travels to the capital to study and become a true alchemist we only see Sepha attempt a few alchemical transformations in her pursuit of getting out of the magician's contract. I would have preferred to have seen Sepha actually perform "the impossible", or at least the alchemist's definition of what that would be earlier in the story to get a better idea of what makes her special. We are told she's special many times, but never shown, and I feel that this detracts from the story. The Lady Alchemist is an entertaining story that is filled with subtle plot twists and dynamic world-building. I recommend for anybody looking for a new twist on an old fairy tale, or who has an interest in anime-style fantasy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kärt

    First of all, thank you so much, Samantha, for choosing me to be in your street team and having me read your precious! I found this Rumpelstiltskin retelling so refreshing. The alchemy and magic system was nothing like I had read before (although, now to think of it, I guess it has a teeny-tiny resemblance with how the Shadowhunter's runes work) and the world building was very well done. The book had just enough of fast-paced action in it whilst being light-hearted at times, too. Even though slow First of all, thank you so much, Samantha, for choosing me to be in your street team and having me read your precious! I found this Rumpelstiltskin retelling so refreshing. The alchemy and magic system was nothing like I had read before (although, now to think of it, I guess it has a teeny-tiny resemblance with how the Shadowhunter's runes work) and the world building was very well done. The book had just enough of fast-paced action in it whilst being light-hearted at times, too. Even though slow burn romance isn't usually something I turn to, in this book it was perfect. Sepha acted her age and I liked how even though they were obviously into each other, their relationship wasn't overly sexualised. Ruhen was a proper gentleman. Thanks to that this book definitely has a wider audience than, lets say, A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I also bow down to the character development in this story. Sepha goes from a frightened traumatized child to a total badass. Made me reminisce about my own life (which has thankfully been way less traumatic, but I could relate to the "leave home and become more of an adult" part of it all). Sepha has a hard time trusting people, for good reason, and it was wonderful to see her grow as a person. And the homonculi! What a unique addition to the story. Reminded me a little of the house elves from Harry Potter. Such peculiar and magnificent characters who made me smile with their sass and broke my heart just a little bit knowing what they had endured. All in all, it was a magical coming of age story full of twists and turns, romance and heartbreak. Loved it and I can't wait to read more about all the other characters and their lives. Plus... that damn ending. Are you kidding me? Ooft. My rating is more of a 4.5, the only thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the snide voice Sepha kept hearing. I kept thinking it was a secret character trying to manipulate her! Shows how much the childhood trauma had influenced her sense of self-worth.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Vitale has taken a largely disturbing tale and transformed it into a story that no longer feels contrived or hopeless, in an original fantasy world with a storyline that outshines the overly familiar Rumpelstiltskin story. Things I loved about The Lady Alchemist: (1) It moves fast and doesn’t linger over well-known plot points. (2) The unique magical/alchemical system. (3) Homunculi! (4) An abundance of interesting characters and relationships. Younger readers (or parents of younger readers) shou Vitale has taken a largely disturbing tale and transformed it into a story that no longer feels contrived or hopeless, in an original fantasy world with a storyline that outshines the overly familiar Rumpelstiltskin story. Things I loved about The Lady Alchemist: (1) It moves fast and doesn’t linger over well-known plot points. (2) The unique magical/alchemical system. (3) Homunculi! (4) An abundance of interesting characters and relationships. Younger readers (or parents of younger readers) should know: (1) There are thematic elements and action that are on the grittier/darker side, and (2) while there is a love interest, there are no bedroom scenes. All in all, I think anyone who loves YA fairytale-style fantasy with unpredictable plot movement will enjoy this book. It is definitely worth the read, and I’m looking forward to the future of this series! I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Foxx

    A great spin on a classic fairytale, The Lady Alchemist is a page-turner from the start. The predicament that the main character, Sepha, finds herself in makes it hard not to empathize with her. Full of action, surprise twists, and strong female characters, the world created by Vitale is both exciting and terrifying. Definitely recommend this book to any fan of fantasy and fairytale retellings.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    3.5 What an unexpected and unique take on the story of  Rumpelstiltskin! A lot of the aspects of this book followed the clichés of the genre, but sometimes you just need to read a book like that, and it can even be comforting! And there were definitely new concepts, as well as fresh twists on some of the more recognizable concepts. The characters were memorable and I found myself attached to them very quickly; they acted in ways that I didn’t always expect, but also made the smart decisions I wan 3.5 What an unexpected and unique take on the story of  Rumpelstiltskin! A lot of the aspects of this book followed the clichés of the genre, but sometimes you just need to read a book like that, and it can even be comforting! And there were definitely new concepts, as well as fresh twists on some of the more recognizable concepts. The characters were memorable and I found myself attached to them very quickly; they acted in ways that I didn’t always expect, but also made the smart decisions I wanted them to, instead of being the types of characters to make bad decisions just as a device for the author to create conflict in the plot. I also appreciated that alchemy was a separate entity from magic in this world and that we got to see how magic and alchemy each worked. There was plenty of interesting lore and world building, but I really wish it was expanded upon on a deeper level, and I’d love to read more stories that take place in this world in the future so these ideas can be explained in more detail. “That night, Sepha dreamed she was a mother. She was staring down at her infant with something like worship, something like terror. Someone she couldn’t see laid a hand on her shoulder and whispered, “You did it, Seph.” At this, the infant glared. It opened its mouth and said, in a horrible, guttural voice, ‘You … will … die.’” Sepha was constantly trying to convince herself that everything was fine, when it most certainly was not, and I could relate to that on so many levels. Her inner monologue of “it’s fine” and powering through in a “fake it til you make it” mentality was super relatable and almost humorous at times. Sepha was harboring a really big secret, and because of that she was lying to her friends and hiding things. It’s a pet peeve of mine when the drama of the story relies on concepts like this as a plot point, but things played out better than I thought they would have, and I actually didn’t mind the way everything came to light and everyone's reaction to Sepha’s revelation. I think Sepha was just a bit too plain and cookie cutter to be a great protagonist, and some of her reasoning got on my nerves, although I won’t get into details in order to stay away from any spoilers. As I was reading, I only found myself fully immersed in the story a couple times, and I wanted to be more drawn in than I was. There were some things that I feel had too much time spent on them, and other things that seemed interesting and that I wanted more detail on. The ending was a little rushed, and there were definitely some loose ends that I would have liked to have gotten answers or more information on. Overall, this novel was definitely worth the time and I really enjoyed the characters and the fresh take on alchemy and magic. While there are things that could have been done differently to make the story more interesting, the pace never slowed and all of the ideas were solid.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    This book has such a fantastic foundation and concept to it that I was disappointed it didn’t have the ability to be fully fleshed. Maybe that’s because it’s the author’s first, and she had to make concessions to keep it concise. Maybe it’s to be explained further in the series. But I get the distinct feeling that the author is trying very hard to sow the seeds of the world she has created in her mind, but everything is given so quickly at first (an enchanted forest, a mill town, and a prison al This book has such a fantastic foundation and concept to it that I was disappointed it didn’t have the ability to be fully fleshed. Maybe that’s because it’s the author’s first, and she had to make concessions to keep it concise. Maybe it’s to be explained further in the series. But I get the distinct feeling that the author is trying very hard to sow the seeds of the world she has created in her mind, but everything is given so quickly at first (an enchanted forest, a mill town, and a prison all within the first 30 pages - and then about four other places throughout the rest of the book), nothing can come to fruition organically. It was all a bit rushed. The characters are pretty dang similar to characters in other fantasy (or just regular YA) novels. Nothing made them truly stand out and make me want to root for them, whether protagonist or antagonist. There were a couple surprises though, which I enjoyed. The author loves contractions. “I’d’ve” and “wouldn’t’ve” galore. I get that it’s to make the dialogue more believable because people typically don’t enunciate “I would not have,” but it’s in nearly every conversation and gets annoying to read it over and over again. My favorite part was the ending - and not in a “finally it’s over” way. It had just the right amount of action, and the epilogue is intriguing. However, probably not enough to make me want to continue with the series. P.S. I only think this is a series. I heard a rumor from someone who knows someone who knows the author who heard she might be writing the sequel. P.P.S. I don’t understand the cover. There are no snakes or keys mentioned. Is it just a generic/cliche fantasy cover???

  27. 5 out of 5

    May

    A fantasy novel about the epic battle between Alchemy and Magic? ⁣ You do not want to miss it!!⁣ .⁣ .⁣ Alchemy has always been an interesting topic for me and I have always wanted to know more about this mystery. ⁣ Of course this is a completely new take on the whole idea of alchemy but in a mindblowing way that the reader definitely won't expect. ⁣ What is the difference between magic and alchemy? ⁣ This is a thread throughout the plot that will be touched upon as the story progresses.⁣ The magic syste A fantasy novel about the epic battle between Alchemy and Magic? ⁣ You do not want to miss it!!⁣ .⁣ .⁣ Alchemy has always been an interesting topic for me and I have always wanted to know more about this mystery. ⁣ Of course this is a completely new take on the whole idea of alchemy but in a mindblowing way that the reader definitely won't expect. ⁣ What is the difference between magic and alchemy? ⁣ This is a thread throughout the plot that will be touched upon as the story progresses.⁣ The magic system and alchemy are so intricate and complex with fantastic twists and turns that'll leave you constantly craving for more.⁣ .⁣ The world building is so unique and sophisticated which conveys all the steampunk vibes with the aspects of physics, chemistry, and an industrial setting infused with a hint of magic. ⁣ This beautiful retrofuturistic theme combined with a fast paced adventure kept me on the edge of my seat almost throughout the whole book.⁣ .⁣ I'm also thankful Samantha Vitale made this story so relatable for us readers by including character traits and aspects that truly resonated with me.⁣ Like sickness, other disorders ( dyslexia) or mental health issues ( fear, anxiety, trauma)⁣ .⁣ Another aspect that is executed really well is the character development.⁣ Sepha as the main character goes through a lot from beginning till the end of the book. To see how much she changes and embraces her diversity, becomes more and more comfortable in her own skin is an inspiring character arc that touched me as a reader on a whole new level. ⁣ It is easy to be in her mind and just follow her train of thoughts to fully understand her motivations and fears.⁣ ⁣ She always has these voices and thoughts in her head which she calls the 'snide voice' that helps her cope with certain situations due to many emotional traumas she experienced during her childhood. ⁣ ⁣ And then there's the fact that she has dyslexia which obviously proves to be a liability especially in the beginning of the story because she's an alchemist and everything in her profession depends on her reading and writing. ⁣ There is a particular scene which really touched me in which Sepha sees a library for the first time and she just panics. A bibliophile would thrive in a situation like that but in her case the anxiety level is even higher because of her disability. ⁣ ⁣ But despite all these obstacles she learns how to own her strength and fight for what she believes in. She also stands up for others who need her help and supports them in any way she can.⁣ ⁣ And not only Sepha but also the other wonderful and complex characters aswell including her friends Destry, Ruhen, Henric and Fio.⁣ Especially the slow burn romance and the chemistry in this dark and magical world made the story even more fascinating.⁣ ⁣ I also want to mention how masterful Samantha Vitale is at spinning a twisty tale full of intrigues, angst and action. There is so much scheming going on that'll make you crave for more! ⁣ ⁣ At this point I could say a 1000 things about TLA but nothing could really convey my love for this amazing story.⁣ I just need more and I'm so ready for the next installment.⁣ ⁣ Vitale has officially secured me as a fan. Periodt.⁣ .⁣ .⁣ ⁣ 𝘏𝘶𝘨𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘚𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘢 𝘝𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘈𝘳𝘤 𝘰𝘧 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘈𝘭𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸.⁣

  28. 5 out of 5

    abi ds

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. the book was awesome but can someone please save destry??

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    Sweet, fun, and light- It reminded me a bit of Howl's Moving Castle, sweet romance, interesting fantasy world but nothing too complex. I enjoyed it!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ilyda

    DNF @ 70%. I'm honestly shocked that I couldn't finish reading this, because it had all the elements for a perfect book - and yet it fell so depressingly short. The Lady Alchemist is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that's set in the land of Tirenia. The story follows a girl called Sepha, a talented alchemist who grows up trapped in the home of an abusive father. Eventually, her gift for alchemy gets her an audience with the Magistrate, the monarch of Tirenia - but in her desperation, she promises to t DNF @ 70%. I'm honestly shocked that I couldn't finish reading this, because it had all the elements for a perfect book - and yet it fell so depressingly short. The Lady Alchemist is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that's set in the land of Tirenia. The story follows a girl called Sepha, a talented alchemist who grows up trapped in the home of an abusive father. Eventually, her gift for alchemy gets her an audience with the Magistrate, the monarch of Tirenia - but in her desperation, she promises to transmute anything. Unfortunately, she fails, and with the threat of a death sentence over her head she ends up making a deal with a magician - evil beings who are outlawed in Tirenia. He'll transform the straw to gold for her, and all she has to do is give her a human body. So Sepha passes the Magistrate's test, is named Lady Alchemist, and is sent to what's essentially a school for alchemists. Along the way, she meets this guy, Ruhen, and a bunch of other friends/frenemies/enemies. Everything is great, except she's being constantly plagued by the evil magician, her new boyfriend isn't what he seems, and also everyone is mean to her. Okay, look. I'm not a critical reader. I'm really good at suspending my disbelief so I can enjoy inexplicable worlds, airheaded characters, and instalove. But this book just didn't work for me. Let's start with the good. The premise is really intriguing - I love fairytale retellings, and the Sepha's dilemma - to transmute a human body or give up her firstborn child - is horribly fascinating. The world, too, is interesting - a little juvenile with that good-alchemists-versus-bad-magicians setup, but this is YA, so whatever. I liked the little pockets of information about how alchemy works (especially the homunculi), and I appreciated Sepha as a character as well - I especially found her word-blindness (dyslexia) to be an interesting touch of representation. So where did it all go wrong? Firstly, the interaction between the characters is awfully wooden and completely unconvincing. I like Sepha and Ruhen well enough individually, but I honestly have no idea where the romance came from. And Destry, the Magistrate's daughter - to be really honest, I had to look up her name while writing this review, she was just so forgettable. When Sepha started confiding in Destry and treating her like a best friend, I was just like, whoa, hold up - where did this friendship even come from? Rinse and repeat for all the relationships between all the characters. Secondly, the world-building is shoddy. Which is a pity, because there were so many interesting tidbits within. Half the reason why I stopped reading is because I didn't even know what was going on anymore. At some parts, there's information overload - at other parts, it feels like I skipped a page or fifty. I don't know. Lastly - and most importantly - I just didn't get why anyone was doing anything. Again, I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but it just felt like there was no rationale to the plot. (Which is hard to excuse, considering this is a retelling and the plot is literally already there.) Why was Henri being an ass? Why didn't Destry want Sepha to show off her skills? Why was the magician attacking everything - seemingly without rhyme or reason? Who knows - I sure didn't. It's really hard to be able to feel for the characters when you don't have a clue why they're doing anything. All in all, this book felt like a Transformers movie - lots of action, lots of cool special effects and interesting characters and ideas, but strung together with a plot so thin it's practically transparent. I'm just disappointed, guys.

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