Chantress Alchemy by Amy Butler Greenfield
Book Two of the Chantress series
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Lucy is the last Chantress, the only remaining girl who can sing magic into the world. Since she defeated the evil Lord Scargrave, England has changed—and not for the better. With crops failing and the people rebelling, Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry’s court. His Inner Council is convinced that making gold through alchemy will save England. But a critical element to the alchemical process has been stolen. Lucy is tasked with finding it with her magic… or else. And until she succeeds, the castle is on lockdown.
Court too has changed. Scargrave's brutal Chantress-hunter has become King Henry's closest advisor. Lucy’s beloved Nat has fallen out of favor and is shunned by his colleagues; their romance means trouble for both of them. Worst of all, something goes wrong with Lucy’s magic. The palace is a labyrinth, and there’s a monster at its heart — a monster who may have the power to defeat Lucy once and for all.
Amy Butler Greenfield returns to the beguiling world of Chantress for a suspenseful tale of courtly intrigue, music, and magic in Chantress Alchemy.
What I Liked:
Oh, how I love historical fantasy! It's seriously one of my favorite subgenres ever (I think my favorite is medieval fantasy), and I love the fresh voice of Amy Butler Greenfield. I think maybe because she is a writer from the UK (i.e. not in the USA), she has a different and distinct voice and writing style. It's subtle but noticeable, if you read carefully. I love the story that she has created, and I am happy to say that this sequel novel is a good one!
Lucy has defeated Scargrave, but the danger in England still lurks. The people are hungry and poor. The king has decided (with the "help" of the council) to try creating gold from The Philosopher's Stone and the Gold Crucible. The problem is that the Philosopher's Stone must be created - and the crucible has been stolen. The king brings Lucy to Greenwich to use her magic to find the crucible and find out how stole it.
But Lucy no longer hears Proven Magic - only Wild Magic. And things become very complicated, as it becomes clear that finding the crucible is not the only issue at hand. Someone wants the king dead and wants to frame the murder and theft on someone innocent. And Lucy - Lucy finds out that she is no better than property to the council, when something specific comes up, involving Nat.
I thought this was an interesting way for the story to turn. The first book ended pretty well, and I could see it being a standalone novel. The twist in this book, with the stolen crucible, seemed a little bit like the author was reaching for a plot, grasping at straws. I like the direction that the author is going with the series, but this book's plot seemed thrown on the reader at first.
BUT, Greenfield redeems herself with many, many twists and turns in the book. She really does make it evident that Lucy cannot trust anyone. Like, at one point, I didn't even trust Nat - his actions and attitude made no sense. By the end, it is clear who Lucy should and shouldn't trust. But the constant winding plots and obstacles made Lucy's journey interesting.
As with the first book, I really liked Lucy. Sometimes, I thought she had no spine, but I reminded myself that in those situations it made sense, historically. She's a woman - no, a GIRL - and centuries ago, women definitely did not have much sway or power (especially like today).
We don't see Nat much, and when we do, it's brief and impersonal. There are a few intimate scenes between him and Lucy, but they are always interrupted. Nat is honorable and noble, intelligent and cunning. I really liked his role in this book. His decision in the end is understandable. He thinks about everyone, and then himself. He gave up much for Lucy, which is so noble.
The ending. This book wraps up well, just like the first book, but there is one part of the ending that clues me in that there has to be another book in the series. The first book and the second book end in the same way, and this is how I know that there must be a third book. There is unfinished business! It's not a cliffhanger... but unfinished business. Let's leave it at that!
What I Did Not Like:
As I mentioned before, the plot of this book seemed kind of forced at the beginning. There isn't really a plot overall, for the series. It's like some of those TV shows - each episode has a problem, a climax, and a resolution, but there isn't much that ties each episode together, like an overall plot. Both the first book and this book can be read as standalone. I kind of dislike this - the fact that the second book's plot is kind of just invented, and that there is no overall plot for the series.
But oh well. This is a good sequel, and definitely does not suffer from sequel slump.
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely would! This is one of my favorite historical fantasy series, by far. If you liked/loved the first book, DEFINITELY make sure you read this sequel. And if you enjoy historical fiction, or fantasy, or both, read this series!
4 stars. An excellent sequel! I'm really glad I had the chance to read this book early, and I definitely cannot wait to read the third book! Here's hoping for a kickbutt conclusion!
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