Book Review: The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian

The Elusive Elixir
An Accidental Alchemist Mystery #3
Gigi Pandian
Midnight Ink,  January 2017
ISBN 978-0-7387-4236-6
Trade Paperback

Who isn’t interested in Alchemy? Can there be anything more intriguing than the ability to transform one thing into something completely different? Lead into gold is probably the conversion of matter most people know of–not that in reality anyone has ever succeeded. But close to that is the search for an elixir to make a living person immortal. And there begins the story.

Zoe Faust, who is 340 years old but appears 30ish, has found the way to transform her own life while keeping her age secret. She moves frequently when her lack of aging becomes too obvious. She states she’s a granddaughter of the original Zoe. And now she’s on a quest to preserve her friend, Dorian Robert-Houdin, a gargoyle who came to life, from turning back to stone. Zoe travels to France, where she once lived, to discover someone from her past, an old lady who says that as a child, she knew Zoe. She also tells Zoe that the police want her for the murder, during WWII, of the man who ran Zoe’s shop and was burned beyond recognition when the shop fell victim to arson.

Zoe flees, which lands her in a peck of trouble when more people from her past follow her to her home–and right to Dorian. These people expect her to provide an old book they believe will show them the way to make the elixir of life–except the elixir needs the sacrifice of a living person. Who will they chose to be this sacrifice? That’s what Zoe has to find out  and prevent. Complicating all she does is the relationship she has with a lover, a partner after more than one hundred years. If he finds out what she really is, what will happen?

This is a good plot. I greatly enjoyed Dorian (although his “brother” not so much) and most of the rest of the cast are good, too. Given her great age, sometimes Zoe struck me as insipid. Well, maybe because of her great age, yes? Some passages are quite repetitive, as well, but overall, I did enjoy the book.

As for alchemy, Dorian is a marvelous cook. He’s found a way to transform common vegan ingredients into wonderful meals. His greatest discovery? Avocado! The book contains the recipe for his special chocolate mousse, which I actually made and found it pretty darn good!

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2017.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.

Book Review: The Exile by C.T. Adams

The ExileThe Exile
Book One of the Fae
C.T. Adams
Tor, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-7653-3687-3
Trade Paperback

Helena Hai and her half-human daughter Brianna escaped the faerie world when Helena began to fear for their lives. Power struggles had become more and more violent and war looked to become inevitable. Since Brianna was the daughter of the present Fae king, it seemed she was a likely target of those trying to eliminate any competition to the throne. Besides, King Leu had a new lover.

Helena, a powerful witch in her own right, closed the veil between the human and faerie worlds to fae magic when she fled. In the human world, Helena ran a magic shop and she and Brianna made a good life for themselves. After Helena passed, a living stone gargoyle named Pug helped guard Brianna.

But even as Brianna enjoys her life and her friends, dissension is building in Fae. Leu, Brianna’s father, must fight for his life and protect his world from those who would usurp his power. Family members, afraid Brianna may be favored to be named the next ruler, seek to destroy her, even through the veil.

A large cast of characters people (or creature) this book. Pug, the gargoyle, is Brianna’s good friend. Ju-Long and his daughter Mei, shape-shifting dragons are firmly on her side. The Diamond King is unique and trustworthy. Even some of the lesser fae creatures prove themselves good citizens.

The wicked adversaries of all different ilk are super strong and well-depicted in this story. Unfortunately for Brianna, many of those enemies are King Leu’s own children and her half-siblings, which makes for interesting family dynamics.

Filled with action as the war of succession heats up, Brianna’s human friends and employees are drawn into the struggle. Nick Antonelli, a police detective, is drawn into the faerie world in a violent introduction, possibly souring an attraction Brianna would like to explore.

This is a big book, well-plotted with nicely drawn characters. It’s fairly rare to find a book where the lesser characters are so well developed. There’ll be more Brianna Hai stories, which I’ll look forward to reading. I’m hoping most of these characters will follow her into fae.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, June 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.