Publisher: Corgi Children's
Released: May 24th, 2007
Grade rating: B+
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.
Recently, I find I haven't read many openers of an existing series that have really made me desperate for the second book. Nothing has grabbed me enough, until a lovely publicist highly recommended I try Michael Scott's first book in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. I'm so glad I listened and, Corinne, if you're reading this: thank you!
I don't read a lot of YA fantasy, so I am in no way an expert of any kind. What I do read, like Harry Potter and Eragon, I choose carefully. Usually they have to include magic, dragons or, if I'm very lucky, both. The Alchemyst has magic, legends, a fight between good and evil and, get this: A VAMPIRE. With a difference. I think it was written just for me.
Scott's writing didn't wow me, and I'll admit I didn't think it was anything amazing. What I did like was how he incorporated many well-known myths and legends into his story, as well as numerous mentions of world events, and famous people and places. The 1666 Great Fire of London even played a part in this story, which is just beyond cool. It's like this fantastical fight has spanned generations and, unless you're involved, you won't know anything about it. I love things like that and, the next time I see a large number of cats following me, let's just say I know who I'll be calling.
Scott's characters were all easy to become invested in, although some stood out more than others. I actually thought main characters Sophie and Josh were the weakest of the lot, with Nicholas, Perenelle and Scathach owning the page. The numerous Elders, villains and creatures involved made The Alchemyst an exciting read, and I never once found myself losing concentration. A couple of sections required a little more attention than others, as there was a lot of history being explained, which came complete with new fantasy names to learn and events to remember. It didn't bore me though, and instead added a change of pace to the narrative.
As the first book in a series, The Alchemyst is pretty rock solid. It sets things up for book 2, The Magician, and ends on a mild cliffhanger. If it had been any worse, I'd have been heading to buy the next book straight away. I can't wait to find out what happens next, and I just hope I can get hold of The Magician soon. Until then, I will exercise some patience.
When you study for a PhD online, you'll be doing a lot of reading.