Monday, August 3, 2015

Liza reviews The Alchemist by AR DeClerck

This gorgeous cover is brought to you 
by Rachel Olson of No Sweat Graphics

London 1869

A dark wizard has arrived in London, at exactly the time unrest among the non-magical community is coming to a head. London is under the protection of wizard and alchemist Icarus Kane and his loyal friends Cora Mae Jenkins and Archimedes Merriweather, and together they must chase down the threat while dodging the riots and the angry poor along the way. 

Icarus has no use for science, but there will be no escaping it as the aether, the very heart of magic, is threatened. All of London may perish if the dark wizard gets his way, and Icarus could lose his best friend and his lover in the battle. All the world could be destroyed under the tide of the oncoming storm unless Icarus can face his own power and embrace his inner darkness.

Once he'd told Cora that The Hand was a tool of dark magic, but as he held it he felt what she must have felt in the train car with his father. The Hand was loyal to Cora. It wasn't emotion he felt from the talisman's magic, but he knew it like he knew his name. The Hand wanted Cora. Would do this thing for him because Cora loved him.

Icarus nearly lost his balance as the thought blasted through his mind. Cora loved him. He'd hoped she cared for him, at the same time feared she might. He'd tried to shake off the responsibility that came with love, but here it was as clear as glass. Cora loved him. The Hand knew it. Now Icarus knew it too. He could no longer pretend that Cora's infatuation would end someday when the right man came along. He was the right man. Cora's man. All that remained was to say the words.

The aether spread out around him, the glow visible for a far as he could see across the great expanse of sky before him. Everywhere it moved it sizzled against the aether tained with his father's dark magic. They collided and the dark aether was burned out by the light of his own. The magic was draining him quickly, and his sudden infusion of spirit at the knowledge of Cora's love had only bolstered him for a moment. His arms were leaden as the last of his father's magic was eradicated and the storm began to clear. He smelled smoke, but knew the ship was no longer in danger of falling from the sky. The aether was surrounding it, keeping them in the air.

His head was heavy with a fog of its own as he felt the last of his strength give way. He moved his arm, letting The Hand fall to the deck behind him. As the tunnels of darkness that he dreaded closed in around him he pitched headlong off the ship and fell toward the city he loved.

In the moment that the storm was burned off by the aether I saw Icarus drop The Hand. I pulled open the wheelhouse door with the Captain quick on my heels. I must have screamed when Icarus went over the edge, because the Captain and all his men stopped to stare at the bow of the ship where their savior had only moments before been standing.

I thought I might be frozen in fear or grief, but I dashed forward and grabbed my talisman from the deck. I could feel my heart racing as I looked over the edge. Icarus was holding on, but dangling limply as the wind buffeted him about like a child's toy. I got to my knees, tucking The Hand into my bodice,  and reached for him. I grabbed hold and he raised his head. He was pale and I knew only moments from unconsciousness.

“Grab my other hand, Icarus.”

“I cannot.” His voice was a whisper, raw and agonizingly rough. He was shaking, every muscle quaking with the effort it took to hold himself to the ship. My arms screamed in pain as I tried to hold him up. The Captain was across the way, tending to a fire that had broken out on the deck.

“Icarus, please.” I begged, pulling with all my strength. I could not hold him and concentrate enough to chant a spell to help me with his weight. “Take my hand.”

“I am not gloved, Cora. I won't.”

I cursed as he quaked hard again, nearly loosing his hand from mine. My palms were sweaty and he slipped away from me a little more. “I am willing to risk it, Icarus! You're going to fall. Take my hand. Please.”

He smiled at me and I felt a sob escape. I'd seen that smile before. Sad and full of soft apologies that Icarus Kane never needed to make. I clutched at him as he opened his hand and slipped away from me. He fell, and all I  saw was a speck of herringbone tumbling end over end toward the ground below.

“Adept Jenkins,” the Captain knelt beside me, his face pale. He gulped, his large adam's apple bobbing as he stared wide eyed at Icarus falling. “I cannot bring the ship down fast enough to catch him.”

I untied my hat and handed it to the captain. It looked ridiculous in his large-knuckled hands, but I clutched The Hand tightly and stood at the bow.

“Continue to follow the feather, “ I said with proper severity, despite the fear bubbling in my gut, “and Icarus and I will be along shortly.”

“Adept, what are you doing?” the Captain grabbed my arm as I leaned over the edge of the decking. I shrugged him off and something in the jut of my jaw or the fire of my eyes must have convinced him that I was not to be trifled with in that moment.  He pulled his hand back and shook his head, “This is madness.”

I took hold of my skirts and held them tightly. The Hand burned in my palm and I wondered if my clothing could catch fire from the heat. The Captain was positively aghast as I raised my dress above my ankles and tensed.

“Good luck, Captain Levisque. Until we meet again.” Then I bent my knees and leaped from the side of the ship.

If you love battles of good and evil, strong and delightful characters, sprinkled with bits of romance, this is your book.

The best thing about this book is our smart, clever, sassy, prone to curses, genuinely good, but that won’t stop her from slapping you if you’re being dense, young lady of the Victorian Era, Cora.

Other grand things I loved about the book, the hero and powerful wizard, Icarus, who thinks himself blackened by unforgivable past deeds and unworthy of Cora’s love. And the loyal sidekicks who are willing to give their lives to keep these two alive.

And the only thing to hate are the many villains, the worst being Icarus’ own father, Victor.

The writing and storyline is flawless, albeit complex enough to require me to read some sections twice to ensure I got it during the first quarter of the book. Magic turns out to be a complex topic. However, once I was properly educated, I could not put the book down.

Highly recommend The Alchemist's kiss to those who love all things magical and steam punkish, and those who love a grand battle between good and evil.  You’ll find lots of surprises, fabulous characters you’ll remember far beyond the reading of the book, and a just the right amount of romance.
I give this delightful read 5 stars

AR DeClerck is a wife and mother of 2 daughters. She lives in the Quad Cities, IL and works as a dialysis technician. She grew up in the mountains of NC and has always been an avid reader. She started writing in high school and never stopped.

AR writes adventure romance novels in many sub genres. She publishes through Nevermore Press and currently has 5 novels available with a few more in the works and thousands more in her head. She credits her love of reading and writing to her mother who always has a book handy.

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