Review: The Alchemist and an Amaretto - Annette Marie

The Alchemist and an Amaretto
The Alchemist and an Amaretto by Annette Marie
Series: The Guild Codex: Spellbound #5

My rating: {★★★★★}

Urban Fantasy
Expected publication: October 11th 2019 by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.

Source: ARC copy received from the Publisher
As a guild bartender, I can handle pretty much anything—mages, sorcerers, witches, the occasional demon. But show me anything family-related and I'd rather run for the hills. It doesn't even have to be my family.

So I have no idea why I thought spending the holidays with Aaron's mom and pop was a good idea.

Meeting his famous parents is already terrifying enough, but I've got a bigger problem. Students of his family's renowned mage academy are being attacked on the grounds—and somehow no one has seen a single assailant? Unexplained tracks litter the nearby woods, rumors of forbidden alchemy are circulating the campus…and Ezra has been acting strangely since we arrived.

Something deadly is brewing in the shadow of Sinclair Academy, and the longer we take to uncover it, the more dangerous it becomes. But no matter the risk, we'll protect the students.

And Aaron's parents too, I suppose. If we have to.

** I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes were taken from the advanced readers copy and as such may not be accurate or present in the final version**

It's no secret that I am a high-key fangirl for absolutely anything by Annette Marie. It all started with The Red Winter Trilogy and then once I knew how amazing and underrated her books were I pretty much gobbled through everything she had ever written.

And then came news of a new series - The Guild Codex: Spellbound

While I may have had my reservations about this series before I started reading it, Annette Marie has never once disappointed me and we're now five books deep in this one (plus a new spin-off series!) and I'm more addicted than ever.

At the heart of the series is Tori, a fiery redhead who mostly acts before she thinks, struggles with a lack of brain-to-mouth filter and who seems to have a knack for diving into the deep end before considering if she can actually swim. And while those are all characteristics that made me hesitant about this series in the first place, I can now confidently say that Tori is one of my favourite leading ladies. Not only is she all those things but she is also not afraid to own up to her own mistakes, she's not afraid to stand up for what and who she believes in, and she is fiercely loyal to those that she loves.

Then there come my favourite three mages - Aaron, Kai and Ezra, each of whom become increasingly complex and deeply layered with every instalment. Just when I think I have them figured out I learn something new and then my perspective shifts again. They are definitely some of my favourite male friendships in fiction and I love that they have such strong bonds and together with Tori they are also one of my number one 'found family' examples.

One of the (other?) things I love most about Annette Marie's writing and her books is the WORLD BUILDING and in the Guild Codex series it has been done seamlessly. There's always more to learn and more to see (yes, even five books down the line!) and yet it's never overwhelming information - it just flows with the narrative and before you know it you could talk about the world and the people in it for hours on end. In fact, I sometimes do! This place, these characters and the story-lines that Annette has dreamed up have become so real to me that I can't wait to talk (and endlessly fangirl) with those that have also read the series.

In An Alchemist and an Amaretto, not only did we get to spend a lot of time with the three boys and Tori, we also travelled to an entirely new part of the world - that of Aaron's family, and I really enjoyed getting to see some more of life outside of the Crow and Hammer (even though I missed the guild HQ terribly!).

It was interesting to see the competitiveness and the elitism between the various classes of mythics and while this book focused a lot on Aaron and Ezra, I felt that Kai also managed to shine in his own way here and his actions and strength of character endeared him to me even more (if that's even possible).

"This isn't who you are. You're smarter than this. Kinder than this. Better than this."

Where the last book Demon Magic and a Martini, felt a bit like a season finale, this book has certainly changed the gears in the entire series for me. Whilst still keeping a mostly episodic feel to it, there's a lot more building on the previous story lines and I can definitely feel like we're headed toward something seriously epic. With only three books left to go in the series I'm both excited to read more and yet already saddened by the fact that this has to end.

This book made me cry, it made me laugh out loud, cringe, scream internally and root for a romance that has been a long time coming. I picked up this book and it was the epitome of unputdownable: I mean, I hardly ever read a book in one sitting and yet this one there was just no stopping me. I literally COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.

"Just be my friend," he whispered, "for as long as you can."

So if you're interested in amazing world building, unforgettable characters, fast paced action interspersed with laugh-out-loud humour then please, do yourself a favour and PICK UP THIS SERIES! And then when you're dying to fangirl with someone, just get in touch with me and we'll gush about it together.


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