Title / The Alchemists of Loom
Author / Elise Kova
Publication Date / 2016
Overall Star Rating / ★★★.5
Goodreads synopsis: Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors. Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins. When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go. He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
This is the first book in a new series and my first experience with this author. I don’t not know how many books are planned for this series. The writing was good and easy to get into. As I mentioned this is a new author for me but I had no issues engaging with the writing style. I found this to be very readable – it is an easy, entertaining and quick book to read. Having said that, this book does seem to throw you in at the deep end a bit. There is a lot of information about this new world and I enjoyed the steampunk feel of it. Overall the world building was quite well done. However I did feel that it lacked abit of detail in certain places. I would have loved some more history, culture and politics of this world – for a better understanding of it. A glossary of key terms would also have been useful, as it would have made the transition into the new world easier. As I mentioned it is part steampunk and I think it was done very well. To be honest I haven’t read alot of the steampunk genre so this was a nice change for me. I thought this was an intriguing new world and I look forward to seeing more of it in future books. It is also quite a slow start, so if you struggle a bit in the beginning, the pacing does even out a bit later on in the book
In terms of the characters, I think they were also written well. We have three main narrators/characters we follow closely + one other character. Personally I got a little frustrated by the main character (Ari), but in a way that didn’t detract from the book too much. It wasn’t that I disliked her – it was just that she is quite different to me so I question some of her motives and decisions, if that makes any sense. While I did enjoy meeting these new characters, I also felt they fell a little flat. This just may be my personal feeling but I just felt that they could have had a little more depth. Ari is a strong and intriguing main character – I think a lot of people are going to love her. Florence was another interesting character but I felt that she could have definitely have more depth to her. She kind of seemed to just be there to be the adorable sidekick to Ari and that seemed like a little bit of a disservice to her – I think she has the potential to be a really amazing character. One issue that I did have was the possible queer baiting in this book. Now I don’t know if anyone else picked up on this vibe but I felt that something was between these two main characters. Nothing ever comes of it though. However I did enjoy the depiction of a bisexual character, as I haven’t seen it in alot of books I’ve read. Another small issue I had was the representation of the female friendship. I think it had so much potential to be an amazing female friendship but it fell flat for me. I think it was a case of telling us about the relationship, instead of showcasing it. I don’t know but something just didn’t quite work for me. The other main narrator was the main guy – overall I enjoyed his character but again he fell a little flat. The development of the relationship between him and Ari was pretty well done, although it developed a little too quickly later on in the book. The last thing to say about characters is the well written main female antagonist (Leona). These characters showcase Kova’s ability to write strong and complex female characters – there are quite a few great female characters, so if you are looking for fantasy with strong women then definitely check this out.
Overall I think this was a solid start to this new series, and if you are looking for a hybrid steampunk and fantasy mix or like strong female leads then you should definitely check this out. The characters are generally well written, the writing is good and the plot is engaging. It is slow to start but bear with it. The world is an interesting one and I look forward to seeing more of it in the future. It is set to be released January 10th. The sequel The Dragons of Nova is set to be released in April 2017. So I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are a big fantasy reader. This is a bit of a mix of YA and adult, so I think it can be enjoyed by a wide range of people. It wasn’t perfect but it was a good introduction to these new characters and world. I will definitely be waiting for the next book in come out. Are you anticipating this book? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.