Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Orion Children's Books
(first published June 2010)
1444001949 (ISBN13: 9781444001945)
The Alchemist and the Angel
Interspersed with notes, magical recipes, and a handful of tales from central European folklore, this is an enthrallingly dark tale of mystery, magic, and alchemy set in 16th-century Prague and Vienna Everything changes for orphaned Jan when his beloved uncle, Gustav—anatomist, natural scientist, and aspiring alchemist—enlists his help in a quest to create a life-generating serum. To test the serum, they must follow a set of ancient instructions and play a dangerous game of bringing the inanimate to life. When Gustav dies suddenly, it's up to Jan to continue his work—little does he know that his beautiful, calculating aunt dreams of using the serum for her own purposes—eternal life. Under the façade of her grief, she convinces Jan they must move from Vienna to Prague, and when she mysteriously disappears, Jan searches for her. In the plague-ridden ghettos and in the court of the mad Emperor Rudolf, he must pit his wits against an extraordinary cast of characters and events. His only ally is Zuzana, a girl with secrets of her own. Set against the vivid backdrop of 16th century Prague and the equally breathtaking Vienna, this magical, historical adventure is reminiscent of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
What a very thought engaging and provoking book that is completely different to anything else that I have read from my shelf. I really wasnt sure what to expect when I was reading this novel, perhaps something about an actual angel just from the title. But what I did read I enjoyed, despite the fact that in some places it was a little confusing and lost to my blonde haired brain. There was a lot of imagination, depth, description and detail put into this write that makes it more intriguing than your everyday other book. It was obvious that the author has clearly taken her time in writing this book, wanting to make it a masterpiece that was refreshing and new in some formation or another. I loved the way the different parts all seemed to join together, even though in other books it perhaps would have seem scattered, confusing and just not right at all. there was a lot of power in this novel, a lot of things to leave you wondering what was to happen. there just seemed to bea fresh new mystery with every page and chapter and story. There was always seeming to be something new to discover and work out, and yet your left not always knowing why it is that way. Like why is she the angel? And did Greta kill her husband or did he die by natural causes. I know that many people have read this book and wondered what the heck it was about but its actually not hard to see where the inspiration has come from, creatures being brought back to life whilst others are formed and made in unnatural and unhuman ways.
Yes this piece definantly has a feeling of Frakenstein, but you can also see and feel its own unique representation in that the reader has used her inspiration to develop it into something new and modern that is more likely to gain the focus and attention of a younger audience, such as myself who is not so much into the classic novels as yet. In many ways this is perhaps a book of change, the sort of book that you might want to read should you need a break from the fantasy characters of vampires and feys. Its different and that is what kept my attention and need to continue reading it. There was just a sense of something more going on within the lines, that not everything was quite what it seemed to be. I do feel that the characters were all well developed, and that the author had taken her time to make them come alive within her words. It was almost as if you got a feel for them as you was reading, almost as if you were to know who they were and what it was that they actually liked and enjoyed. Jan was a wonderful character and I very much loved his sense of innocence that shone through the words. you could see that he was the sort of lad that wanted to learn and that yet he had a very caring and sentimental heart that only wanted to do right, not wrong. So yes I got a feeling that he was a young vulnerable teenage boy who had seen much more than any other boy from his time and age.
I suppose it was the fact that she made what was clearly a classic time when the plague was around, feel very modern that was actually magical because it meant that you got this real sort of feeling for the area and how it was at that time. it just seemed to add a lot more depth to how you look at the book and how you read it. I loved the distinct flow of the chapters and yet how scattered they seem and I know that I would so very happily read this over and over again but it is just purley and absolutely wonderful.