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The Lady Alchemist

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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. Se 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?


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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. Se 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?

30 review for The Lady Alchemist

  1. 5 out of 5

    kath | novel + folk

    This was a fast-paced, clever, steampunk Rumplestiltskin retelling full of twists and surprises and totally worthy of devouring in one sitting. There were so many moments when the author’s prose just ascends to another level of beauty and it was a sight to behold. It was well plotted and full of action and fantastic world-building, alchemy and magic - all working together to keep me frantically turning pages. This is a book to lose yourself in for a few hours, yet will stay with you for a long ti This was a fast-paced, clever, steampunk Rumplestiltskin retelling full of twists and surprises and totally worthy of devouring in one sitting. There were so many moments when the author’s prose just ascends to another level of beauty and it was a sight to behold. It was well plotted and full of action and fantastic world-building, alchemy and magic - all working together to keep me frantically turning pages. This is a book to lose yourself in for a few hours, yet will stay with you for a long time afterwards. I particularly loved Nadya and Ruhen, and how unproblematic and s w e e t they were. It was refreshing to witness how their relationship unfolds when most YA these days is more concerned with redeeming villains than appreciating the ones who’ve stuck by from the beginning. Read this one if you love retellings with a twist, compelling characters, and dark steampunk vibes. 4.5 stars And 5++++ stars to the most gorgeous cover ever. Early copy gifted by the author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Vitale

    (Well, I like it)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sagan

    review coming soon!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    As soon as I heard this was a Rumplestiltskin retelling I was instantly sold and my hopes soared high. And let me tell you, my expectations were met and SHATTERED. I cannot accurately put into words how much I freaking LOVED this book. It’s fast paced and clever and SO original. I’ve gotten bored of YA books lately because they tend to follow the same pattern but this book is so far outside that box that it’s on another planet. The world building is great, the writing is beautiful, the story is As soon as I heard this was a Rumplestiltskin retelling I was instantly sold and my hopes soared high. And let me tell you, my expectations were met and SHATTERED. I cannot accurately put into words how much I freaking LOVED this book. It’s fast paced and clever and SO original. I’ve gotten bored of YA books lately because they tend to follow the same pattern but this book is so far outside that box that it’s on another planet. The world building is great, the writing is beautiful, the story is beyond captivating and the characters are just freaking amazing. So basically this book is perfect is what I’m trying to say!

  5. 4 out of 5

    ✩ Yaz ✩

    4 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ”Everyone knows magic and alchemy don’t mix.” I was drawn to this because it’s a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin not because it’s a favorite fairytale of mine but the fact that I was looking forward to the author’s own take on this... and I was not disappointed. • The plot was very unique with elements of the fairytale woven into it, but it maintains its own authenticity. The first half of the book is where I felt I was bombarded with info that took me a while to process but it was impor 4 - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ”Everyone knows magic and alchemy don’t mix.” I was drawn to this because it’s a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin not because it’s a favorite fairytale of mine but the fact that I was looking forward to the author’s own take on this... and I was not disappointed. • The plot was very unique with elements of the fairytale woven into it, but it maintains its own authenticity. The first half of the book is where I felt I was bombarded with info that took me a while to process but it was important to have a grasp of how this world works. But within the first 100 pages, I felt like the magic system, characters and the world was well-established and did not drag for long. The other half of the book is where it ignited my excitement because of the twists and turns it took. I was plagued by the rising threat of the Undead Magician that bound the heroine to his contract and the wickedness of all Magicians. Not to mention there’s more to this than what the synopsis hints at. • The world-building is immersive and atmospheric. The steampunk elements is what stood out to me the most. It was easy to create images of that world in my head and just let my imagination play with it. • The Magic system has to be my favorite part of this book. It was an intriguing and complex system of two components: magic and alchemy. For alchemy, it’s users were categorized as: - Court Alchemists: focuses on academic pursuits and knowledge. - Military Alchemists: use talents to secure Tirenia against criminal magicians and the odd rebel uprising. - Spirit alchemists: concerned with matters if the spirit. Purify and exchange the soul’s defects for preferable traits. Spirit alchemy is used only on serial criminals. While magic is broader, more mysterious and some of its users have a specific power source that relies on elements such as water, air, fire, earth and others. • The cast of characters were not many but each character played a role in driving the plot further. Sepha I found to be a realistic example of a heroine that had her own weaknesses and challenges to deal with throughout the book. This is the first character I’ve ever read about that has Dyslexia or as our heroine calls it word blindness which is the reason why she struggled with drawing alchems and has to trace them, I thought it was a wonderful representation of the learning disability. Sepha also has a fear of heights and she struggles with combat and freezes in such situations as a result of her trauma since she was subjected to abuse by her father which is thankfully not described in graphic details. It was a realistic representation of fear for someone struggling with a traumatic past. Her character development was done well throughout the book and you can trace the changes in her when you compare the heroine between the beginning and end of the book. I also liked Ruhen and Destry, I knew from the moment they made an appearance that they’ll be the characters I like the most in the book. I still want Ruhen’s character to gain more depth, I sense his internal struggle but I feel like he is still clouded in mystery, I still don’t know him that well. Maybe I’m in for a surprise in the sequel. • The Romance may have developed at a pace that is a little too fast for me I’m a sucker for slow-burn but it did not ruin the experience of fawning over the sweet moments between Sepha and Ruhen. What’s between those two is more than a pull of a magical spark, their feelings and concern for one another is genuine and you feel it. • The pacing felt to me a little unstable. It felt fast-paced but at the same time it didn’t flow steadily for me for some reason; is it because there was a lot to process? Or that I felt like the time in some scenes fly by fast? I can’t quite put a finger on it. • There were some moments where I felt it was easy to predict which underwhelmed me a bit but the action scenes gripped me and there was one scene were my jaw went slack. If you enjoy reading about unique magic systems, fairytale retellings and a distinctive heroine with fantastic character development then I recommend to give this a read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    That cover tho? Love it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    When you're reading and just want there to be more, or for it to be a series it's a really good book. At least imo. But that epilog!? What was that? I need answers. I get that it's open but why even add that if you're not planning to make a series or at least a novella? (yes it made me love the book more but still!) When you're reading and just want there to be more, or for it to be a series it's a really good book. At least imo. But that epilog!? What was that? I need answers. I get that it's open but why even add that if you're not planning to make a series or at least a novella? (yes it made me love the book more but still!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Rojem

    I received this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review here and on my blog Samwise Reviews. I loved every minute of this. From the second I realized it was a Rumpelstiltskin adaptation, I was hooked. The story started with that, but it was So. Much. More. It had romance and adventure and friendship and magic and drama and hardship and just everything. It was a delicious ride to the very end, and I was demanding a sequel before I was even half way through. Some parts of it were a bit of I received this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review here and on my blog Samwise Reviews. I loved every minute of this. From the second I realized it was a Rumpelstiltskin adaptation, I was hooked. The story started with that, but it was So. Much. More. It had romance and adventure and friendship and magic and drama and hardship and just everything. It was a delicious ride to the very end, and I was demanding a sequel before I was even half way through. Some parts of it were a bit of a predictable YA trope (which I enjoy and find comforting) but parts of it caught me off guard and I didn't see coming (which I also enjoy). Overall, one of my favorite things I've read in a while and I greatly look forward to other work by this author.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Goicea

    I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Month 9 Books, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review. RTC later today! My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Month 9 Books, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review. RTC later today! My Blog ¦ Bookstagram ¦ Twitter ¦ Pinterest ¦ Facebook

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mable (the-forest-library)

    What an outstanding debut! This book is a fast-paced wild ride from start to finish, with so many reveals that I never saw coming. Amazing world building with such interesting characters; I especially loved Destry. Rumpelstiltskin has never been my favorite fairy tale, but I enjoyed this magical and alchemical take on it much more than the other retelling I’ve read (Spinning Silver).

  11. 5 out of 5

    SanWa Library

    4 of 5 stars!! I did my full honest review at my booktube channel and my blog. See you there. 4 of 5 stars!! I did my full honest review at my booktube channel and my blog. See you there.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liv | Books to Liv by

    HEA: (view spoiler)[ Not yet (hide spoiler)] “Not every mother wants to be a mother. Not every mother wants all of her children. Not every mother cares enough to pretend she does.” Before diving into this novel, I had no idea what alchemy really entailed and which kinds of laws it abided by. But the more I read about, the more I annotated –the more intrigued I became. Vitale’s story might be labeled as a retelling of the The Rumpelstiltskin, but to me, it felt like something new –born ex n HEA: (view spoiler)[ Not yet (hide spoiler)] “Not every mother wants to be a mother. Not every mother wants all of her children. Not every mother cares enough to pretend she does.” Before diving into this novel, I had no idea what alchemy really entailed and which kinds of laws it abided by. But the more I read about, the more I annotated –the more intrigued I became. Vitale’s story might be labeled as a retelling of the The Rumpelstiltskin, but to me, it felt like something new –born ex novo. Something she came up with after many years worth of plotting and researching. Sepha, the alchemist who’s asked to achieve an impossible goal, will certainly be seen as "the heroine" of this story but to me, she was a symbol. For all the people who have survived an abusive childhood with their sanity intact –thanks to a dream that preserved their heart and humanity. And yes, she wasn’t exactly an easy person to read about. But who would have been... in her shoes? Vitale’s portrayal of psychological abuse and its lifelong consequences was extremely on point. And I will never cease to thank her for this. Ruhen, the man who helped Sepha throughout her journey, was the sweetest hero I could have hoped for. Water to her fire. Discipline to her rage. My favorite things about this book? Its mysterious nature, the world-building, the ACADEMIC environment and of course, Vitale’s prose –flawless and polished. The time she took to build the bones of her novel led to a world made of atmospheric and symbolic details that kept me on my toes for days. ⠀ I am still wondering about that final page. I am still thinking about that kiss. ⠀ 5 stars. Disclaimer : Thank you to the Publishing House and the author for gifting me this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephenie

    Retellings intrigue me but I don't always pick them up, but when I heard this was a loose Rumpelstiltskin retelling... okay you got my attention. If you're not familiar with the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, basically it's about a miller's daughter who must spin straw into gold, she makes a deal with a creature to help her, in return she must give him her first born child. In the end she loses everything. I've always been intrigued by this fairytale, and in The Lady Alchemist, Sepha finds herself in th Retellings intrigue me but I don't always pick them up, but when I heard this was a loose Rumpelstiltskin retelling... okay you got my attention. If you're not familiar with the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, basically it's about a miller's daughter who must spin straw into gold, she makes a deal with a creature to help her, in return she must give him her first born child. In the end she loses everything. I've always been intrigued by this fairytale, and in The Lady Alchemist, Sepha finds herself in the above situation. Except she isn't spinning straw into gold. No, she must prove to the Magistrate that she is able to transmute straw into gold or she loses her head. That moment she opened her mouth claiming this, I threw my hands up in the air, like why Sepha, why would you claim that LOL. Naturally she can't do this and she strikes a deal with a magician, she has one year to A) alchemically create a body for the magician or B) give him her firstborn child. Sepha is now Tirenia's first Lady Alchemist and is leaving Three Mills and her abusive father, but at the Institute, new challenges and secrets await her. As an alchemist, Sepha is dyslexic and doesn't like to openly expose this to others and the 'voices inside her head' love to beat her down, but Sepha's journey is inspiring as she learns more about herself, her potential and her self worth. #IsThisAKissingBook Yes it is. Her love interest Ruhen, is the kind of man you want on your side and to share sweet embraces with. A unique retelling with steam punk vibes, twists, mystery, magic and alchemy that I couldn't stop turning the pages. My heart swooned at every sweet moment between Sepha and Ruhen. However, you'll have to find out for yourself if this retelling is going to have a happy ending.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Di

    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 j 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 and her backstory and history were well fleshed out. 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 were 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book was fun, fast-paced, and intense, and that epilogue may have actually killed me? It’s a retelling of a well-known fairy tale, but the world was so unique and I can’t wait to explore it some more!

  16. 4 out of 5

    G Daniels

    I will state right from the front I really enjoyed The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale and if fractions were allowed would give it a 3.75. Her writing style is good and the story she told kept you interested. Also, the ending was such that if she chooses, she can pick up the story again (and I hope she does!), this could easily be a duology if not a trilogy. So why do I recommend The Lady Alchemist? Let me explain… But first, the rules...(Argh!!! Always with the rules!!!) Rule #1: No telling the I will state right from the front I really enjoyed The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale and if fractions were allowed would give it a 3.75. Her writing style is good and the story she told kept you interested. Also, the ending was such that if she chooses, she can pick up the story again (and I hope she does!), this could easily be a duology if not a trilogy. So why do I recommend The Lady Alchemist? Let me explain… But first, the rules...(Argh!!! Always with the rules!!!) Rule #1: No telling them they have an ugly baby. The writer put themselves into the story; they put a lot of work into it and truly believe in it and its merits. Who am I to tell them they created an ugly baby? So even if I am disappointed in it, I will not be cruel and a hater, but will be honest without being mean. On the reverse side, it has to be REALLY AWESOME to earn a 5-star rating. Don’t want to cheapen the rating system by giving out too many 5-star ratings; they have to be earned by golly! Rule #2: No spoilers! You would not want me in a theater telling you what was going to happen next or expose a pivotal point before you get to experience it for yourself, so why would it be okay to tell you an important part of the story and ruin it for you? Not cool and won't happen. Rule #3: If it is a series, I will review the entire series instead of each individual book. I may state that one book or part of the story arc is better than another, or that it started off slow and picked up or the reverse, but will review the whole instead of each separate part. This is partly due to my own laziness, but also to provide my opinion on the entire story. Using the movie metaphor again, you wouldn't review half a movie and then come back and review the second half separately, that would be silly. I will review the entire story, regardless if it is a duology, trilogy, or more. Rule #4: and most importantly, take my review with a grain of salt. Read the story for yourself and make your own decisions. I am only giving my opinion and I may not be as impressed with it as you or you may think I am totally out of my mind and wonder if I read the same story as you. You always have the right to ignore what I write or disagree with me. The Lady Alchemist packs a lot into its <300 pages. The main characters: Sepha is the main character. She is a strong alchemist, though she has a reading disorder (dyslexia?) and cannot make her own alchemical symbols It should be noted Sepha adheres to the prejudices of Tirenia against magicians, thinking they are all evil and deserve to die. This belief is only supported by the deal she made with the magician to save her life and how he continues to taunt and try to kill her. It should be noted because some people might find it rather annoying while others, such as myself, found it made Sepha more appealing: Sepha is not the sharpest tool in the shed. It is not that she is stupid or ignorant, but she does not take a hint very well and has difficulty realizing the obvious. In other words, she does not need a 2x4 upside the head to take a hint, (as I do), she needs the whole damn house!!! There were many instances where not only the characters in the book but also the reader figured out a secret here or there, (it was extremely obvious), Sepha was oblivious until it was so apparent, she couldn’t do anything but realize it, sometimes being told outright. I won’t spoil it here by giving examples, but some people may find this character trait “disappointing” or find Sepha is too stupid to be believable, but to me it is another character flaw that makes her human and endearing. She is naïve and has a low self-esteem, lacking confidence in herself which is exacerbated by her lack of formal education, inability to read and create her own alchemical signs and the history of physical and emotional abuse she suffered under her father, not to mention the guilt she carries regarding her mother’s death. It is understandable and makes more sense that she appears somewhat dense than if she was this crafty wise individual who was always the first to figure out the solution. She is damaged and imperfect, but that makes her that much stronger. She makes mistakes but she learns from them. And as the book progresses, she grows and becomes more confident and accepting of herself. Rhuen, the handsome love interest of the story who is also going to study at the institute. He of course holds his own secrets but is always loyal to Sepha and helps her get out of numerous scrapes. And, of course, there is romance between Sepha and Rhuen that grows and flourishes as the story progresses. Though an integral part of the story it is well done and does not overshadow the rest of the story and for the prudish, the sex does not go beyond a few kisses here and there and most occur later in the story. Destry: a military alchemist charged with assisting and protecting Sepha at the Institute who along with Rhuen become her most loyal and faithful allies. Destry is tough but she is fair and very likable. She is sharp and intelligent but keeps her alliance to her friends as priority. She protects and helps Sepha throughout even when risking her self and her standing. Henric: the frenemy of Sepha and Rhuen who they meet at the Institute. He is difficult to figure out in that he does not like Sepha and Rhuen, but due to his relationship with Destry, he does not only have to tolerate them, but also help them in their adventure. But he is like having a viper as a companion, you never know if or when he will decide to strike. Fio: the homunculus that is assigned to Sepha. The homunculus were humanoid creatures that were artificially created to act as personal servants to whomever they were assigned. Though they appeared to look human, they were created to not have any thought of their own or any physical affect, (emotion). They were created to be “mindless slaves”. Fio was not the usual homunculus though and proved there was more to the homunculus population than was thought. The magician: he’s just an annoying jerk who you know he is going to be out-witted and lose the contract, but until that happens, you REALLY wish he would get his due. The premise: It is quite an adventure story that spans just about a year in the life of the heroine Sepha. Sepha is an alchemist who works at her abusive fathers’ munitions factory, but unlike other alchemists she has special abilities that allow her to transform items to the final stage without having to go through each stage of the transformation as normal alchemists do to achieve the end result. During a tour the Magistrate of Tirenia is attending at her father’s factory, Sepha catches the attention of the magistrate and makes an impossible claim. The magistrate takes her for her word and either she fulfills her promise or she is killed and the factory is closed. Desperate, she strikes a secret bargain with a magician to complete the task for her and she has one year to fulfill her part of the bargain or she will die, (Rumpelstiltskin anyone?). In Tirenia, alchemy and magic are separate and magicians are hated and considered evil. They are so despised they are killed upon discovery. Since, with the magician’s secret help, she is successful in her promise to the magistrate, Sepha is awarded the opportunity to go to the Alchemical Institute and study there and work for the magistrate. During the trip to the Institute, their train is attacked by the same magician who she made the bargain with, and then he also attacks her at the Institute. But the magician is not only targeting Sepha, but also creating all sorts of havoc throughout all of Tirenia. At the Institute, Sepha is not exactly welcomed with open arms as many of the alchemists are suspicious of her. This is only made worse when every time she tries to do something good, it seems to backfire and make people more suspicious and fear her. As always things go wrong and she is forced to flee the Institute and head to a sanctuary beyond the Magistrates reach. More mishaps and adventures ensue until she is finally able to succeed in breaking the contract with the magician. In summary, I found the book very enjoyable. The story-line was good and well-balanced, not being the same ol’ story told in a new light or one that has been overused. The characters were well developed and true to their nature throughout. There was enough conflict, both internal and external, but did not bog down or become overly moralistic or preachy. The writing style kept you interested and the pace was good. So yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good adventure story. Though this is a stand-alone, Ms. Vitale left it so the story could be picked up again and brought forth. There are many threads left that can be pulled from here if Ms. Vitale chooses to pursue them in another book or two (hint-hint-nudge-nudge Ms. Vitale). The epilogue especially is a cliffhanger of sorts and makes one go “Huh?” and really begs for more information as to what occurs afterwards. So yes, read The Lady Alchemist and hopefully Ms. Vitale will extend the narrative and continue the saga.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty ~ Paper Hearts Ink

    I really enjoyed this book! Some great concepts and I thought Sepha was a brilliant lead. I really liked her tenacity. She had a great character arc from start to finish. Ruhen was wonderful! I loved their interactions and how their relationship grew over the course of the story. There were so many sweet moments. Destry was one of my favourite characters, I super liked her and enjoyed her friendship with Sepha. I also really liked/hated Henrik. I thought the plot was well paced and the world buil I really enjoyed this book! Some great concepts and I thought Sepha was a brilliant lead. I really liked her tenacity. She had a great character arc from start to finish. Ruhen was wonderful! I loved their interactions and how their relationship grew over the course of the story. There were so many sweet moments. Destry was one of my favourite characters, I super liked her and enjoyed her friendship with Sepha. I also really liked/hated Henrik. I thought the plot was well paced and the world building was great. Will probably reread when my physical copy arrives next month. I mean that cover is just stunning! Great ending and I’m really looking forward to the next book. Thanks to the author and publisher for the gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating more like 4.5 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    What a hidden gem! This book seriously needs more recognition! I was honestly blown away by the wonderful, intriguing storytelling. The Lady Alchemist has hints of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (I don't know much about the original fairy tale), but with alchemy and magicians and necromancers. The character development and world building are fantastic. I felt truly immersed into the story and I was rooting for Sepha the whole way (though, I found her snide inner voice to be a bit distracting and unn What a hidden gem! This book seriously needs more recognition! I was honestly blown away by the wonderful, intriguing storytelling. The Lady Alchemist has hints of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling (I don't know much about the original fairy tale), but with alchemy and magicians and necromancers. The character development and world building are fantastic. I felt truly immersed into the story and I was rooting for Sepha the whole way (though, I found her snide inner voice to be a bit distracting and unnecessary at times). I definitely felt like the ending was left a little open. Samantha tied everything up nicely, but that epilogue...! What?! You can't just leave it like that! I highly recommend this book. It's adventurous, magical, romantic. It's great, go read it! Thank you LibraryThing and Month9Books for providing me an e-ARC to read and honestly review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alli

    Okay, so I really enjoyed this! I'm a huge octopus fan, so that didn't hurt but the story is just really good. And I loved the writing. I also really appreciated that the protagonist was 18, especially considering the contract. I'll eagerly be awaiting book two! Advanced ebook copy received via the author, RTC. Okay, so I really enjoyed this! I'm a huge octopus fan, so that didn't hurt but the story is just really good. And I loved the writing. I also really appreciated that the protagonist was 18, especially considering the contract. I'll eagerly be awaiting book two! Advanced ebook copy received via the author, RTC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Wolf

    I am impressed by this first effort by Samantha Vitale. The narrative had a few stops and sputters in the first half of the book, but then I was drawn in by the growing relationships between the characters, keeping me hooked until the end. The story is a modern retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, made relevant for the YA and Fantasy novel audiences. Samantha has created a whole new world here with her broad imagination and she fills in many details, yet leaves us looking forward to reading more in fut I am impressed by this first effort by Samantha Vitale. The narrative had a few stops and sputters in the first half of the book, but then I was drawn in by the growing relationships between the characters, keeping me hooked until the end. The story is a modern retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, made relevant for the YA and Fantasy novel audiences. Samantha has created a whole new world here with her broad imagination and she fills in many details, yet leaves us looking forward to reading more in future books of this series. At least, I hope there'll be more!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    A wonderful cover buy. I begins very much as a Rumplestiltskin retelling, spinning straw into gold and the cost being the firstborn daughter, but soon evolves into its own wonderful thing. The divide between Alchemy and Magic leads the conflict, with a good dose of romance which is sweet and precious. The characters continue to develop over the course of the story, and we are introduced to my favourite character, the Homunculus Theo. This book needs a sequel just for more Theo, he is the most prec A wonderful cover buy. I begins very much as a Rumplestiltskin retelling, spinning straw into gold and the cost being the firstborn daughter, but soon evolves into its own wonderful thing. The divide between Alchemy and Magic leads the conflict, with a good dose of romance which is sweet and precious. The characters continue to develop over the course of the story, and we are introduced to my favourite character, the Homunculus Theo. This book needs a sequel just for more Theo, he is the most precious character I have read in ages. Highly recommend this book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Baiba Murray

    I was hooked almost immediately and the twists and turns kept me guessing. I had a hard time putting this one down. The character development was amazing and there were such unique elements that I just adored. There were even scenes that created such a sensory experience, I loved it. I can't wait to see what happens next! I was hooked almost immediately and the twists and turns kept me guessing. I had a hard time putting this one down. The character development was amazing and there were such unique elements that I just adored. There were even scenes that created such a sensory experience, I loved it. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Permanently_Booked

    I haven't come across many retellings based on Rumplestiltskin and I was not dissapointed with this twist. This novel takes that tale and adds a hefty helping of alchemy and magic. It was so well done. Sepha is a strong and flawed character. Coming from an abusive home, she's struggled through reading issues and the loss of her mother to be one of the top self taught alchemists in her town. She can do what most alchemists cannot. When the magistrate comes to town to see Sepha's alchemy, everythi I haven't come across many retellings based on Rumplestiltskin and I was not dissapointed with this twist. This novel takes that tale and adds a hefty helping of alchemy and magic. It was so well done. Sepha is a strong and flawed character. Coming from an abusive home, she's struggled through reading issues and the loss of her mother to be one of the top self taught alchemists in her town. She can do what most alchemists cannot. When the magistrate comes to town to see Sepha's alchemy, everything that can possibly go wrong does. In her haste to rectify the issue she overstates her skills and says she can turn anything into anything just give her one more chance. And so the story unfolds where she is tasked to change straw into gold and the unwanted aid of an evil magician (trapped in the body of a homunculus) seals the contract for her first born. But that's just the short synopsis. In this world magicians are evil. Alchemy and magic should never mix and the magistrate happens to have a twin sister doing sinister experiments with soul alchemy. There's a growing love story between Sepha and Ruhen and learning how to trust her new comrades as she strives to break the contract. I REALLY hope there is another book coming. The ending wrapped up the first half perfectly but it definitely had an epilogue with a cliffhanger. I'm so ready for more. Reader warning: abuse and criminals tortured in the name of science Thank you to Month9Books and LibraryThing for the opportunity to read and review this ebook for an honest and unbiased opinion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria Drolet

    Definitely worth it! I was hooked by the first few paragraphs and couldn’t stop reading it until I’d read through the night and was finished. Great characters, story, tempo and world building. Some authors just have that “it” factor and Samantha Vitale has “it” and then some. I will be reading whatever else she writes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lakeshia

    Sepha is a talented alchemist who lives in a small town with her strict and abusive father. One fateful day sets off a chain of events that changes her life forever. Along with meeting supportive friends, they also protect a secret that even Sepha is not aware of herself. For me, the book started off a bit slow, but there was tons of back story that helped as the plot went along. Sepha's character is well written and I enjoyed seeing her development along the way. The magic system is unique and Sepha is a talented alchemist who lives in a small town with her strict and abusive father. One fateful day sets off a chain of events that changes her life forever. Along with meeting supportive friends, they also protect a secret that even Sepha is not aware of herself. For me, the book started off a bit slow, but there was tons of back story that helped as the plot went along. Sepha's character is well written and I enjoyed seeing her development along the way. The magic system is unique and probably one of my most favorite things about reading this book, aside from the Sepha and Ruhen dynamic. The writer was really great at drawing up the relationship of Sepha and Ruhen. The fact that we knew Sepha's thoughts about why she was keeping the relationship at arm's length is what made it devastating, but in the greatest way. 

  26. 4 out of 5

    Decourcy Williams

    Even with my love of magic and magicians, this book makes me want to also become an alchemist. It is an incredible read from start to finish. I feel like it only gives a sneak peak into this world and it leaves you wanting more. I felt the gamut of emotions all through out this one! Excellent read and cannot wait for the sequel!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Habiger

    The Lady Alchemist starts out with a well known fairy tale premise, inspired almost directly from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and is blended with the anime show Full Metal Alchemist. Sepha is a young woman with a skill at alchemy - transforming one material into another using complex drawings (called alchems) to achieve the transformation. But when a demonstration for the Magistrate goes awry, Sepha tries to fix the problem by claiming that she can transform anything into anything. The Magistrat The Lady Alchemist starts out with a well known fairy tale premise, inspired almost directly from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and is blended with the anime show Full Metal Alchemist. Sepha is a young woman with a skill at alchemy - transforming one material into another using complex drawings (called alchems) to achieve the transformation. But when a demonstration for the Magistrate goes awry, Sepha tries to fix the problem by claiming that she can transform anything into anything. The Magistrate takes up her offer and orders Sepha to transform straw into gold by morning or be killed. It is an impossible task, but Sepha is saved by the appearance of a magician who offers to do the transformation for her, in exchange for Sepha's first born child. Sepha knows that magicians are evil, but she agrees to the bargain thinking she can find a way out of the magical contract before the magician's deadline. The magician turns the straw into gold, and so begins Sepha's journey into a wider world that she thought she knew but is filled with mystery, intrigue, and dangers she is not prepared for. As the story begins, the comparison to Rumpelstiltskin is unmistakable, and probably clearly intended by Samantha Vitale. I would presume that the comparison with Full Metal Alchemist is also intended, or at least is there as a nod to that manga/anime. And so as I read the story I was not expecting much beyond those basic comparisons. But the more I read, the more Samantha surprised me, adding new twists to the story and hidden depths to the characters. The more I read, the more that my outlook on The Lady Alchemist changed. I found the world-building interesting, and how the idea of alchemy (in the pseudo-magical way that it is portrayed) and actual magic function and mix. The story goes beyond a simple retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. My largest concern about the story has to do with Sepha. In the beginning of the story she's described as a alchemist savant, able to do things no other alchemists can do. But we are never shown her skills - at least not to that degree. The big presentation for the Magistrate is foiled, and she is unable to perform the impossible task of turning straw to gold. As she travels to the capital to study and become a true alchemist we only see Sepha attempt a few alchemical transformations in her pursuit of getting out of the magician's contract. I would have preferred to have seen Sepha actually perform "the impossible", or at least the alchemist's definition of what that would be earlier in the story to get a better idea of what makes her special. We are told she's special many times, but never shown, and I feel that this detracts from the story. The Lady Alchemist is an entertaining story that is filled with subtle plot twists and dynamic world-building. I recommend for anybody looking for a new twist on an old fairy tale, or who has an interest in anime-style fantasy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    3.5 What an unexpected and unique take on the story of  Rumpelstiltskin! A lot of the aspects of this book followed the clichés of the genre, but sometimes you just need to read a book like that, and it can even be comforting! And there were definitely new concepts, as well as fresh twists on some of the more recognizable concepts. The characters were memorable and I found myself attached to them very quickly; they acted in ways that I didn’t always expect, but also made the smart decisions I wan 3.5 What an unexpected and unique take on the story of  Rumpelstiltskin! A lot of the aspects of this book followed the clichés of the genre, but sometimes you just need to read a book like that, and it can even be comforting! And there were definitely new concepts, as well as fresh twists on some of the more recognizable concepts. The characters were memorable and I found myself attached to them very quickly; they acted in ways that I didn’t always expect, but also made the smart decisions I wanted them to, instead of being the types of characters to make bad decisions just as a device for the author to create conflict in the plot. I also appreciated that alchemy was a separate entity from magic in this world and that we got to see how magic and alchemy each worked. There was plenty of interesting lore and world building, but I really wish it was expanded upon on a deeper level, and I’d love to read more stories that take place in this world in the future so these ideas can be explained in more detail. “That night, Sepha dreamed she was a mother. She was staring down at her infant with something like worship, something like terror. Someone she couldn’t see laid a hand on her shoulder and whispered, “You did it, Seph.” At this, the infant glared. It opened its mouth and said, in a horrible, guttural voice, ‘You … will … die.’” Sepha was constantly trying to convince herself that everything was fine, when it most certainly was not, and I could relate to that on so many levels. Her inner monologue of “it’s fine” and powering through in a “fake it til you make it” mentality was super relatable and almost humorous at times. Sepha was harboring a really big secret, and because of that she was lying to her friends and hiding things. It’s a pet peeve of mine when the drama of the story relies on concepts like this as a plot point, but things played out better than I thought they would have, and I actually didn’t mind the way everything came to light and everyone's reaction to Sepha’s revelation. I think Sepha was just a bit too plain and cookie cutter to be a great protagonist, and some of her reasoning got on my nerves, although I won’t get into details in order to stay away from any spoilers. As I was reading, I only found myself fully immersed in the story a couple times, and I wanted to be more drawn in than I was. There were some things that I feel had too much time spent on them, and other things that seemed interesting and that I wanted more detail on. The ending was a little rushed, and there were definitely some loose ends that I would have liked to have gotten answers or more information on. Overall, this novel was definitely worth the time and I really enjoyed the characters and the fresh take on alchemy and magic. While there are things that could have been done differently to make the story more interesting, the pace never slowed and all of the ideas were solid.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kärt

    First of all, thank you so much, Samantha, for choosing me to be in your street team and having me read your precious! I found this Rumpelstiltskin retelling so refreshing. The alchemy and magic system was nothing like I had read before (although, now to think of it, I guess it has a teeny-tiny resemblance with how the Shadowhunter's runes work) and the world building was very well done. The book had just enough of fast-paced action in it whilst being light-hearted at times, too. Even though slow First of all, thank you so much, Samantha, for choosing me to be in your street team and having me read your precious! I found this Rumpelstiltskin retelling so refreshing. The alchemy and magic system was nothing like I had read before (although, now to think of it, I guess it has a teeny-tiny resemblance with how the Shadowhunter's runes work) and the world building was very well done. The book had just enough of fast-paced action in it whilst being light-hearted at times, too. Even though slow burn romance isn't usually something I turn to, in this book it was perfect. Sepha acted her age and I liked how even though they were obviously into each other, their relationship wasn't overly sexualised. Ruhen was a proper gentleman. Thanks to that this book definitely has a wider audience than, lets say, A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I also bow down to the character development in this story. Sepha goes from a frightened traumatized child to a total badass. Made me reminisce about my own life (which has thankfully been way less traumatic, but I could relate to the "leave home and become more of an adult" part of it all). Sepha has a hard time trusting people, for good reason, and it was wonderful to see her grow as a person. And the homonculi! What a unique addition to the story. Reminded me a little of the house elves from Harry Potter. Such peculiar and magnificent characters who made me smile with their sass and broke my heart just a little bit knowing what they had endured. All in all, it was a magical coming of age story full of twists and turns, romance and heartbreak. Loved it and I can't wait to read more about all the other characters and their lives. Plus... that damn ending. Are you kidding me? Ooft. My rating is more of a 4.5, the only thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the snide voice Sepha kept hearing. I kept thinking it was a secret character trying to manipulate her! Shows how much the childhood trauma had influenced her sense of self-worth.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Vitale has taken a largely disturbing tale and transformed it into a story that no longer feels contrived or hopeless, in an original fantasy world with a storyline that outshines the overly familiar Rumpelstiltskin story. Things I loved about The Lady Alchemist: (1) It moves fast and doesn’t linger over well-known plot points. (2) The unique magical/alchemical system. (3) Homunculi! (4) An abundance of interesting characters and relationships. Younger readers (or parents of younger readers) shou Vitale has taken a largely disturbing tale and transformed it into a story that no longer feels contrived or hopeless, in an original fantasy world with a storyline that outshines the overly familiar Rumpelstiltskin story. Things I loved about The Lady Alchemist: (1) It moves fast and doesn’t linger over well-known plot points. (2) The unique magical/alchemical system. (3) Homunculi! (4) An abundance of interesting characters and relationships. Younger readers (or parents of younger readers) should know: (1) There are thematic elements and action that are on the grittier/darker side, and (2) while there is a love interest, there are no bedroom scenes. All in all, I think anyone who loves YA fairytale-style fantasy with unpredictable plot movement will enjoy this book. It is definitely worth the read, and I’m looking forward to the future of this series! I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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