1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Steampunk and Absinthe Fairies,
This review is from: A Conspiracy of Alchemists: Chronicles of Light and Shadow (Chronicles of Light & Shadow 1) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When Elle Chance arrives in Paris to do a job for an old friend, things don't turn out quite as she expects. A locked box of vital importance, a diamond bracelet that won't come off, an absinthe fairy who won't come out of the bracelet and the mysterious Mr Marsh are just the start. Elle isn't sure what she's got herself into, but when people start shooting holes in her airship she knows she doesn't like it.
Elle might be a rational young woman raised in the scientific Light, but the magical Shadow has taken note of her and now things are about to get interesting.
This debut novel is a great steampunk romp. The year is 1903, Paris hums with opium, absinthe and fairies, and Elle flies a dirigible. So far, so steampunk. The atmospheric details are great as the action shifts to Oxford, Venice and Istanbul, and the war between the dodgy alchemists and ruling Council of Warlocks fits beautifully in this setting.
Elle's a clever heroine, forthright and independent. I love how she reacts to Marsh's big revelations and how she (quite rightly) won't have any of it. True, there were times towards the end where I felt she was being unnecessarily obtuse, but it was consistent with her character.
Marsh was a nice mystery, with his slow reveal of identities. He's also charming and noble, with a long history and plenty of hints at a sad past. I liked how his outlook slowly changed as he started to see things from Elle's point of view. And he was never boring.
There are a scattering of other interesting characters too, but this is mostly Elle and Marsh's tale. The setting is rich, the detail is beautifully balanced by the magical elements, and the ending is interesting. After becoming immersed in this world so quickly it was a bit of a wrench to leave it, so I'll be interested to see where part two goes.