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Review: The Lady Alchemist - Samantha Vitale

The Lady Alchemist
The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale
My rating: {★★☆☆☆}

YA Fantasy
Published May 26th 2020 by Month9Books

Source: Borrowed
In a land torn between magic and alchemy, Sepha is an exceptional alchemist, able to bend the rules in ways no one else can. But when a slip of the tongue lands her in prison with a mountain of straw, even she has to admit that she can’t transmute straw into gold.

With the threat of a death sentence hanging over her, she’s forced to make a deal with a conniving magician. Sepha escapes with her life – but at a cost: she has one year to alchemically create a body for the magician, or else her firstborn child will be his.

As Sepha’s deadline approaches, she uncovers a deadly secret. How can she save her country when the body she owes the magician will be used to destroy it?
I read this book with my fellow ApoCalypsos and as always, it was a fun buddy read.

I found it very unfortunate that I couldn't love this book. There were so many elements that should have made this at least a four star for me, and yet the execution failed to 'wow' me. I was frustrated with the protagonists, found the plot to be too predictable and in all honesty struggled to find some connection to draw me in. I never got lost in reading this - I was always able to read too critically without just reading for pure enjoyment.

Firstly, this is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (which was SUPER exciting for me since I do love retellings and Rumpelstiltskin is definitely a required fairytale retelling). Then there was the fact that ALCHEMY was being included which I also loved - I haven't read that many YA fantasies with alchemy. Unfortunately I needed to know more to flesh out the magic system. While intriguing I felt like alchemy (which was actually explained quite well and had quite strict rules and a good system) and then magic (which absolutely cannot mix with alchemy - except when it does....) was just not executed as well as it could have been and the actual system of magic itself was left very open ended.

Sepha, the main character was the character I felt like the author spent the most time on fleshing out her backstory and history. While I couldn't connect with her on any level, I could sympathise with her toxic upbringing and abusive father.

Ruhen who was clearly the love interest from the outset was a sweet character, but that was as deep as it went for me. He had the obligatory mysterious past and a withheld secret, but again, those cliches just too clumsy and predictable. The romance relied heavily on a poorly executed soulmate bond tether that mystically appeared between the two characters and this made it really difficult for me to find any chemistry and I found I just couldn't board that ship.

Henric was another character who infuriated me because he seemed to vacillate between being an absolute jerk and a poorly hidden "bad guy".

My favourite character was Destry - a strong female determined to forge her own path in her world, no matter how much baggage she had to carry and how many responsibilities were on her shoulders.

I enjoyed the homunculi and the way the author handled how they are made, used and abused. Again though, there were issues - mostly pacing issues and reveals were pretty heavy handed.

I really wanted to love this one unfortunately it all boiled down to execution. I'm not saying that you won't enjoy it, please if it interests you give it a try - there's definitely a lot to enjoy - however without finding my own personal connection I just saw too many flaws.

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