Book Review - A Conspiracy Of Alchemists

(Book One of The Chronicles of Light and Shadow) by Liesel Schwarz (Del Rey) ISBN 9780091949860 

Elle Chance, the spirited daughter of a brilliant scientist, is a dirigible pilot in 1903. It is the time of Nightwalkers, Alchemists, and Warlocks. A battle between Light and Shadow is about to begin, but Elle doesn’t know that. Yet. 

Elle is sometimes forced to accept suspect customers and cargo to pay for her airship. In Paris, her friend, Patrice meets her in an opium den and asks her to transport a small box for him. Her payment is a beautiful diamond bracelet. As Elle puts it on an absinthe fairy flies into the diamonds. Elle can’t get the bracelet off but she decides to deal with the problem in London. She is attacked and the box is stolen. The dashing Hugh Marsh comes to her rescue and joins Elle and Patrice as they flee to England. 

On her return she discovers that her father has been kidnapped. Determined to save him, she is drawn into the conflict between the Alchemists and the Warlocks. Elle learns, against her will, that she has a destiny to fulfil. Can the handsome, aristocratic Marsh convince her that she has the power to stop darkness being unleashed on the world? 

Schwarz creates a Steampunk world that includes history, magic, alchemy, romance, and fantasy. The charming world of steam-powered machines is well thought out and mostly plausible. A Conspiracy of Alchemists is an excellent debut novel, and I can’t wait to read more from this South African author.

Amanda Patterson
4/5

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