Sunday, March 10, 2013
Mini Reviews: A Conspiracy of Alchemists & Nightfall
Author: Liesel Schwarz
Series: The Chronicle of Light and Shadow, #1
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a surprisingly fun debut, a wonderful blend of steampunk, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It’s perfect for fans of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series. The worldbuilding may be slightly inferior in comparison, but that’s only because Meljean Brook is the untouchable queen of the genre. Leisel Schwartz did not disappoint with her fabulously imaginative world full of alchemists, Nightwalkers, absint fairies and warlocks. The steampunk elements were great (gyrocopters!) and the plot was highly entertaining, if a tiny bit predictable.
The romance, however, fell a bit flat. You know when you watch So You Think You Can Dance and a couple dances with technical precision, but the judges say there’s not enough chemistry between them? That’s exactly how this was: Elle and Marsh made all the right moves, but there wasn’t any spark there. I never felt the rush of expectation when they were left alone, and even though theirs wasn’t an instalove, it still wasn’t believable enough for me.
Elle was a great heroine, one I could easily admire. She refused to be limited by her gender and preferred flying airships to husband-hunting. The secondary characters were fabulously developed and I can’t wait to see more of them in the second installment, The Clockwork Heart. A Conspiracy of Alchemists has a very clean ending and it could easily have been a standalone, but I was very excited when the second book was announced.
I can’t promise you’ll remember all the details a month after you finish this book, but I can promise you’ll have a great time reading it.
Author: Ellen Connor
Series: Dark Age Dawning, #1
Release date: July 6th 2011
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Paperback, 327 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
Wow, sometimes the cover and the synopsis can be terribly misleading. Nightfall is a romance, yes, a very steamy one at times, but the primary focus isn’t the relationship between the two main characters, it’s the apocalypse underway and the (diverse) group of people brought together by horrible circumstances.
The backstory was just a bit too vague for my liking, but the action and the horrid creatures more than made up for it. Giant, cannibalistic dog-men followed the group’s every movement and the fact that they were humans before they became mindless monsters made them even more horrifying – and interesting… in a morbid sort of way.
However, it needs to be said that the true strength of Nightfall lies in its secondary characters. Obviously (well, it’s obvious to me anyway), this is what Ann Aguirre does best - for those of you who don't know, she co-authored this book with Carrie Lofty. All her characters, no matter how small their role, are fully fleshed out.
Points were lost due to a hero who took broody and difficult to a whole new level. While Nightfall is not primarily romantic suspense, the poor timing still bothered me a great deal. By the time Mason got around to dealing with his feelings for Jenna, I was both exasperated and in a decidedly unforgiving mood.
The second and the third book focus on secondary characters from Nightfall, paranormal romance-style. One of them is my absolute favorite which makes me even more eager to pick them up.