Genre: Urban fantasy
Synopsis: Addie is an alchemist who can’t remember what happened to her since the night the the institute housing the greatest alchemists in the country exploded. She creates a potion to try to restore her memory, but only gets a few more moments, a few more hints to what happened. But she does learn that the Fire Lord was there that night, making him her next stop for information.
So she launches on a journey to find out who destroyed the institute, who took her memories, and what the people chasing after her want. And discovers who she was, who she is, and who she’s going to be.
Series: First two books in an ongoing series.
POV: First person
Preview: The first book is currently free on amazon, and here’s an excerpt.
Our main protagonist is Addie, short for the Addled Alchemist. That’s a nickname given to her by the guys she works for, because she showed up one day with no memory of who she was, and an inability to say anything that wasn’t an ingredient for a potion.
All she knows is that she has the tattoos of a master alchemist (a title for which she is decades too young), the alchemist headquarters exploded killing all of the masters around the time she lost her memory, and someone is after her. That, and she knows how to do alchemy, even if she can’t remember learning it.
So Addie, along with her best friend James who found her the night of the explosion, sets out to reclaim those memories and discover what happened to her. The truth about who her enemies are and who she was isn’t even close to what she’d imagined.
The author (Becca Andre) is a chemist, which I could tell from pretty much the first page. (Proper lab terminology tends to give it away fast.)
One of my favorite things about this story is the main protagonist’s power set, if it can be called that. She’s an alchemist, which means she crafts potions that can explode, or heal people, or cause memory loss–so things that real life chemistry can do, but way more effective, controlled, or specific, because magic. That means her skill set is high in versatility but must be prepared ahead of time. And it’s really, really cool. Seriously, this is one of my favorite kinds of powers in fiction.
Of course, the story keeps depriving poor Addie of her potions, probably to keep her from being too overpowered. Addie ends up having to think on her feet and working with what’s in front of her, because she frequently doesn’t have the luxury of preparation.
Addie herself as a character is a mixture of ambition, compassion, and pure, unadulterated confidence. She knows she’s good at what she does, and she knows that she must have earned it sometime in her forgotten past. Her ambition is entirely for her craft–she sets high goals for herself and the idea that someone else might have discovered the final formula, the great goal towards which all alchemist strive, is distressing. Sometimes her ambition and confidence take her a bit too far, but what she achieves is pretty cool until she has to face the music. After all, just because she can deal with the immediate situation, doesn’t mean she can deal with the future consequences. She ends up with a pretty even blend of success versus failure overall, I think.
Another thing that I absolutely love is the idea of redemption. One character was not a good person, once upon a time. And that character is genuinely different now, but the past still needs to be owned up to. It’s cool to have an anti-hero in the mix (and not just the one, as of the second book). There are still unanswered questions with respect to this, which the third book may or may not address. So far, I’ve really enjoyed following this plot in the story. It hasn’t been pulling its punches.
And there’s the friendships that the characters build with each other, which are pretty sweet. The people in Addie’s life that she’s established relationships with after her memory loss (with the exceptions of James’ brothers), are so deeply different to the people she’d known before. Her current friends are loyal and honest, but as in the dark as she is. Her former companions all have their own agendas that Addie can’t remember, and they’re all telling her whatever they think will best serve that agenda.
Her friendship with James is built on how much they need each other’s support. James is desperate for acceptance, given his own power and his history. He expects to be feared, or reviled, or otherwise unappreciated. Addie’s friendship is kind of like an anchor for him, when he feels like he can’t trust anyone. For her part, Addie gets James’ unconditional help and support. And belief in her. It’s strong for what it is, but the best part is that they’re forced to move past it. Their friendship changes and is redefined.
Her relationship with Rowan has a rocky start–she needs to know what he knows, without risking that he might be lying, and without being burned to crisp. So she gets a little creative with her potions to get what she needs and escape unharmed from their meeting. She bites off a bit more than she can chew there, but fortunately, he’s reasonable and has the same questions she has. He’s surprised an alchemist of her stature cares about anyone other than herself, given his experiences. They build up a mutual respect. It’s cute.
The truth is revealed in the first book, and that segment of the story wraps up nicely. The second book is about dealing with the consequences of that truth. And fixing the things which that truth broke. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s fun. These books are fun.