Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Alchemyst

Sophie and Josh Newman, fifteen-year-old twins, are staying with their aunt in San Francisco for the summer. Their parents are archaeologists, and will be away on a dig in Utah for the entire summer. Sophie has found a job at a coffee shop, and Josh works at a used book store right across the street. They are both enjoying the city and their jobs, and everything is going great -- until Sophie sees some strange men enter the book store. There is something unsettling about them, dressed in bulky dark coats on such a warm summer day.

Josh, meanwhile, watches in astonishment as the bookstore owner is attacked by creepy men with dead-looking skin and flat, stony eyes. Everything they touch becomes putrid and rotting. The owner, Nick Fleming, fights back with amazing green fireballs. Sophie meets up with Nick Fleming's elegant wife, Perry, and when the windows explode in the book shop, they run across the street. Perry is kidnapped by the golems, and Sophie and Josh are left fleeing with Nick Fleming (aka Nicholas Flamel), cast into an adventure that brings with it startling revelations and devastating consequences.

The distant past comes to life, bringing with it beings and creatures from Egyptian, and Greek mythologies, to name a few. Everyone has an agenda, it seems, and no one seems willing to explain matters to the twins. How can they possibly know who to trust?

This first book in The Secret of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series opens with a bang and never lets up. The twins are thrust into one dire situation after another, and the plot proceeds at a breakneck, page-turning pace. While the book does come to a sort of conclusion, much of the story is left unresolved. Happily, the second volume in the series, The Magician, is now available. I'm looking forward to the further adventures of Josh and Sophie - and to revisiting the unusual and interesting characters they've met so far.

Books in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series:

1. The Alchemyst
2. The Magician

The Alchemyst (#1 in The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel series) by Michael Scott (Delacorte Press, 2007)

Also reviewed at:
Books for Teens
Rona Books
Valentina's Room


  1. I saw this in a book shop recently and was intrigued. It's good to read a very positive review. May have to go back and get me a copy!

  2. I've reviewed it too here!

    I enjoyed it at the time even though I wasn't a fan of his writing style.

  3. Rhinoa - I definitely enjoyed it, but it leaves a lot of room for character development (which I'm optimistically expecting in the next installment of the series). I'll let you know how it goes!

    Valentina - I think I may have heard about this from your review, now that you mention it. I couldn't remember why I had it on my book pile! His writing style didn't bowl me over, either, but I did enjoy the tight pacing and the mythological allusions. I'll add your review link to my post - thanks for letting me know!

  4. Now a question that bugged me since I read it and never got an answer:
    It doesn't contain proper spoilers but it's not for those who haven't read it!

    why do you think they need the book to keep being immortal? I mean, they've had the book for all those years, they should know by now what it says and what's the procedures, right? Do they need to read stuff from it every so often, to renew the spell? and even then,would you imagine they knew it already?
    I don't get it...

  5. Hey Darla, what age would you say this is directed to? I'm wondering if it's too old for me to read with kiddo (he's 6). We're already reading Harry Potter ...

  6. Valentina - you know, I found myself wondering that, too. It might involve actual possession of the book, but that wasn't mentioned outright. Maybe they'll touch on it in #2? Have you read that one?

    Heather - my library puts it in the teen section. I'd say 6 is probably a bit two young, because it is a bit dark and violent, and the characters are 15 and have concerns that probably wouldn't be terribly relevant to much younger readers.

  7. I haven't. I wasn't actually planning too, but now, if I find it at the library I might just read it, everyone's saying it was really exciting.

  8. I've read both books and enjoyed them both... I just hate waiting for "the next book" all the time! grrrrrrr.

  9. Valentina - I'll be interested to hear what you think if you do read it!

    Deslily - Don't I know it. I hate waiting for the new ones - it's so nice when there's a nice padding of already published ones waiting when you discover a new series, isn't it?

  10. I am really trying not to buy "first book of a series".. but dang it.. most don't tell you it's going to be a series in the reviews on amazon!!!

  11. I just finished one I had no idea was a series - Four and Twenty Blackbirds - until I finished it! They are sneaky, aren't they? And now I'm hooked!

  12. I would probably buy this just for that book cover. It's always nice to know that the book inside is just as intriguing.

  13. I love the cover, too - it fits the book, plus it's a contrast to the usual YA covers, so it stands out.

  14. Six would be way too young for this series; maybe 12 is a better age.

    I've just finished book 2 and the reason why the Flamels need the book is explained in this one. And is has to do with posession of the book and the fact that the formula cannot be memorized because it keeps changing!

    I loved them!

    Holding my breath for Brisingr!


  15. Ariel - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad that question is answered in book 2. I just checked the audiobook out of my library - I thought I'd give that version a try - I bet it will be an exciting one to listen to.

    I have yet to read Paolini's books - but it sounds as though I'd better get moving!


    Valentina they have to have the book to renew the spell because the books pages shift and change every month and the potions don't work the second time. WARNING BIG SPOILER DON'T READ: Later in the 2nd book someone the twins meet found out immortality without renewing potions


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