Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Alchemyst - Michael Scott

Summary:  Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.  (Image and summary from goodreads.com) 

My Review:  Sophie and Josh have had an unconventional childhood.  Their parents, busy archaeologists, relate best to items long buried, so the twins grew up on a steady diet of mythology and a need to be independent.  It's a good thing, too, since the cool couple that owns the bookshop across from Sophie's work happen to be Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel.  And they were just attacked by weird, mud-like creatures.  The street smells like rotten eggs and peppermint,  Perry is missing, and they both have a sneaking suspicion that things will never be the same.

Michael Scott has created such an interesting world, blending (just in the first book) Greek, Celtic, and Egyptian mythologies with sorcery and alchemy (not to mention names that are certainly familiar) into a seamless world existing parallel to our own.  This action-packed book is a very quick read, and it does pack a punch, although I found it a little difficult to keep track of so many different mythologies mixing.  I don't know much about Flamel (as a matter of fact, all I know of him is what's on the back of a Chocolate Frog card), but Scott has done a good job of painting a fascinating history of him.  I'm one of those readers that if something piques my interest, Google become my new friend, and Scott has done his homework.  Curious events in Flamel's life (his purchase of a rare and unreadable book, his empty grave) are integral to the story, and it makes me curious to see how they'll come into play.  It's also fascinating to read why Scott chose Flamel as a protagonist.

Further, I love the characters he's created in Sophie and Josh.  Although they are thrown into a situation more terrifying and stranger than anything they've ever encountered, their personalities are clear.  As fifteen year olds, their excitement at driving (and terror they'll have to do it again after quite the chase scene), Sophie's take-charge attitude, and Josh's utter despondency at losing his computer and cell phone all ring so true.  The last made me laugh.  The group has just survived a heart-wrenching battle, have barely escaped with their lives, and are facing such a mighty, life-altering challenge, and Josh is incapable of doing anything other than mourning the loss of his computer.  Sounds like every other fifteen year old boy I know!  I appreciated the honesty in that writing.

Every once in a while, it's nice to treat myself to an indulgence series ... one that's just fun to get lost in, and as a result, I'm almost always on the lookout for new series I can pick up once in a while, enjoy, and move on.  I'll definitely be checking out book two of this series!

My Rating:  Three and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  The opening scene is a magical battle, and it doesn't slow down from there.  While Scott has written a clean book, the battles certainly make you feel like you're there.

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