Chantress Alchemy by Amy Butler Greenfield
Series: Chantress #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]
Since defeating Lord Scargrave with her music, Lucy, the last Chantress, has lived by the sea, mastering the intricacies of Wild Magic. But now her quiet life is about to end: the wheat crop has failed, the people are rebelling, and Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry IX’s court. There she finds the Inner Council planning to save England by making gold through alchemy. But the golden crucible — the critical element in the alchemical process — has been stolen, its guards murdered. Lucy is charged with finding the traitor behind the attack.
Meanwhile, enemies old and new are gathering. 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. (from Goodreads)
Chantress Alchemy may be second in its series, but it certainly stands well on its own. All I know is I tore through the pages of this novel, eager to know what would happen to Lucy, to the King, and to the rest of the Kingdom. Basically, Greenfield has managed that rare trick of writing a sequel that's even better than its predecessor.
If you've read my review of Chantress, one of my comments on Lucy was that she faded into a crowd of typical fantasy heroines. Chantress Alchemy has certainly shifted that opinion! Lucy's found her footing when it comes to her magic, an admirable and intimidating talent... until it starts to act up. Fears about her messed-up magical abilities and lack of defenses aside, Lucy earned my admiration when she refused to let it get the best of her. She looks for alternatives to her magic, remains practical in the face of danger (from the King, his council and forces unseen) and refuses to believe it's gone forever.
Even though Lucy became a character I could root for, my favorite part of Chantress Alchemy lies not with her but in its story. It, quite simply, took me away into the world of England in the 1600s -- and I loved it. It was infinitely more compelling than Chantress, because there was less story set-up required. The best part, though, lies in the fact that the story was unpredictable up until very near the end! Greenfield succeeded in keeping me in suspense, and I commend her for it.
I honestly haven't heard much buzz about this series, and that's unfortunate. Chantress and Chantress Alchemy alike are strong fantasy novels, with the additional bonus of having historical details included in their plots. Greenfield's writing is strong, convincing and flows really well. If you have yet to read this series, I highly encourage you to do so!