A Conspiracy of Alchemists, Liesel Schwarz, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-545077, 340 pgs., $25.00

Steam Punk gun

Steam Punk gun (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

Airship pilot, Elle Chance finds herself involved in the mysterious dealings of Mr. Marsh, a handsome, but recalcitrant individual who requires that she fly him and an un-named cargo from Paris to England. If not for the vouching of her friend, Patrice, Elle would have walked away without a second thought. Still, the amount being paid to transport is substantial and she could use the money to keep her airship flying. Almost before it begins, Elle has been attacked and the package stolen.  She returns to England only to find her father kidnapped and before she knows it she’s involved with alchemists, secret organizations, night walkers, aeons old disagreements, and a prophecy that she, evidently, plays a key role in.  Before she knows it she’s flying off across Europe on a road trip to some of its most beautiful cities.

This is best considered supernatural steam punk.  It’s Victorian in sensibility and mechanically to the left of Tesla.  The book is an interesting read on two levels.  Certainly, as with any novel, the characters have to be interesting and challenged by their environment.  That’s certainly the case here.  And secondly, the universe that these characters has to be interesting as well.  In this case the universe is a unique blend of culture, magic, and twisted technology.  It’s a fun place to read about and imagine.

I did find myself a bit at odds with the protagonist–a strong female who swoons too much when confronted by the male physique.  But, I suppose, that is in keeping with the time period, albeit the time period is a made up one.  Still, the characters are steady in their behavior so it’s not a fault, just a preference on my part.

Liesel Schwarz does a good job in keeping the book moving, in keeping the characters focused and in presenting her world in an interesting light.  There are also a couple of interesting twists as well.  These turns of events definitely keep things interesting.  This is a debut novel so it’s all the more impressive for that.  There’s also mention, in the pr material that this is a series.  So, we’ll see.  the first book does end on a rather final note but any decent writer can find ways to get things going again.

Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a good steam punk fill.

To get your own copy all you have to do is click here: A Conspiracy of Alchemists: Book One in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow


About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

2 Responses to A Conspiracy of Alchemists, Liesel Schwarz, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-545077, 340 pgs., $25.00

  1. Terry Kepner says:

    Well, unless the author KILLS the protagonist (and s/he doesn’t come back as a vampire/zombie/etc.) you can ALWAYS continue the characters in the next book, even the ones that end with everything perfect! You just reveal in the next book how everything came undone and has to be fixed again!

  2. Pingback: The Weekend at Asylum VI report | Steampunk Journal

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