Author: Samantha Cohoe
Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books
Edition: Paperback ARC, 341 Pages
Hardcover Publication Date: October 13, 2020
A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*
Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
No illness, no want, no death. The Philosopher’s Stone gave everything humankind wanted but did not believe we could have in this life.
-Samantha Cohoe, A Golden Fury
Hello, bookworms! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend so far. What have you been reading this week? I managed to finish my ARC of A Golden Fury yesterday, and I quite enjoyed this debut novel! I had requested it because the premise caught my attention immediately. A young alchemist is trying to create the magical Philosopher’s Stone, but there is a curse attached to it that makes people go mad! How fascinating!
Here are a few more initial thoughts:
- I loved the historical fantasy aspect! The book is well-written, and the author’s descriptions of the place settings helped me feel as if I were truly there in each location with Thea, the main character. The story begins in Normandy, France in 1792, with the backdrop of the French Revolution. Then the rest of the story takes place mostly in Enlightened England. Both settings are fantastic!
- The book starts off a little slow, but once the plot started moving, I became quite invested in the story! I was eager to find out what would happen with the curse. When some people began to go mad, I really enjoyed the suspense and even a bit of creepiness. (But do beware that there is a bit of horror and gore when people go mad.)
- There are some great twists! I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this book, but it pleasantly surprised me!
- An act of betrayal makes the plot take quite a turn!
Characters & Romance
Here is a brief overview of the characters and romance:
- Thea is a young alchemist who wishes to be her mother’s equal in the field. But after her mother goes mad from the Alchemist’s Curse, Thea travels to England to find her father, who doesn’t know she exists. She is still determined to make the Stone herself, despite the various obstacles that arise – including the madness.
- Marguerite is Thea’s mother. I honestly did not like this character much, but I don’t think she is supposed to be likeable. Her relationship with Thea is quite complicated. Even though Marguerite trained Thea to be an alchemist like her, she views Thea as competition when it comes to the Philosopher’s Stone.
- Vellacott is Thea’s father, another alchemist and professor at Oxford. Near the beginning of the story, he acts quite pigheaded about several things. But by the end, his character grew on me.
- Dominic is Vellacott’s assistant in his alchemy lab. He hopes to one day study to become a medical doctor. Dominic becomes such a loyal friend to Thea, and it is nice to see such a friendship portrayed. Although – I think I was ultimately hoping for a bit more between them.
- Will is Thea’s mother’s former apprentice. He’s a charming ladies’ man. Marguerite sends him away after finding him with Thea one day under a plum tree with champagne bottles – even though they had gone no further than a kiss. After that, trouble seems to follow Will wherever he goes – mainly in the form of angry Prussians. There is more to Will than meets the eye.
Springtime in Normandy was soft and sweet, sun shining brightly and so many things blossoming that the very air was perfumed with promise.
-Samantha Cohoe, A Golden Fury
Sometimes, Thea does things that surprise me and seem slightly out-of-character, but I suppose her actions make a bit more sense due to certain situations she faces near the end. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say the Stone is … creepy.
I really enjoyed the bit of excitement and suspense near the end of the book. For the final 50 pages or so, I didn’t want to put the book down! There is even a gunfight between two ships!
The ending is perhaps not a fairy tale happy ending, but it concludes the novel satisfactorily. Overall, this was an engaging debut, and I look forward to reading more from this author! If you’re looking for a historical fantasy with a dash of horror, magic, and romance, I recommend checking out this book when it releases on Tuesday! Happy reading, everyone 🙂
*Content Warnings: Madness; torture; self-harm; an instance that can appear to be sexual assault.*
Copyright © 2020 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)
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Up Next on My TBR: Teen Titans Raven & The Puppetmaster’s Apprentice