Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're helping usher in the arrival of a brand new Middle Grade Fiction series that weaves Fantasy like we breathe air. It came to life via non-traditional means but thanks to that Kickstarter campaign's success, I get to share it's pub day celebration with all of you. Ladies and gents, please join me as we welcome today's book of choice...
The Alchemist's Theorem, Book 1
About the book....
Mendel, an eccentric boy with an autistic nature, and the master alchemist Sir Duffy set out on a series of quests with their many weird and endearing creature companions—like Esther the snake-ish gusselsnuff, and Gooder the fat, lazy, carnivorous horse. These determined travelers must venture across the continent of Terra Copia, an exotic land where the plants and animals in one forest are completely different from the next. It is up to them to safeguard secrets and dangerous artifacts from many enemies—such as agents from the Academy of Advanced Disciplines, venomous pixies, and a mysterious pale stranger. If they fail, a terrifying curse will return to their land.
The author totes it as "a fantasy series...for humans as young as 10 and as old as the earth itself". Talk about an age range but she's not far off the mark.
When we take into account the characters, the quest, and the subjects covered, the broad appeal can easily be seen. Sir Duffy is an elderly fellow and great alchemist, despite his somewhat modest demeanor. He's sort of the Dumbledore to this story's Harry, or in this case Mendel...more on him in a moment. He's got a heart of gold and enough know-how and gumption to carry him through the strangest of encounters intact and more knowledgeable for having survived. You can't help but love this North Forrestor, the same of which can be said for our young lead. Mendel is an interesting little fellow that's lead a hard life due to the cards fate has dealt to him, but is it truly a burden or a blessing in disguise? You see, Mendel isn't like you are me in all the ways that we would suppose him to be. He's autistic and while our world may have its issues with him in some of the same horrible fashions that his does (his parents, teachers, watchers, oye! Don't even get me started!), the magical world views him as gifted. His tangled, ever wandering mind is able to remember things in a unique fashion, observe things that escape our passing glance, and know things that most do not.
It's astounding to see how he's treated and heartwarming to see him thrive under the tutelage of Sir Duffy. The bond between them is unbreakable, a better surrogate father you could never ask for. Speaking of bonds, I would be sadly remiss if I didn't mention two of my favorite creatures outside of the human category. They go by the name's of Esther and Gooder. The former is a gussellsnuff, the latter a carnivorous horse. Okay, so at first glance, neither sound like a great companion, but I'm telling you these two are great in a pinch, not to mention loyal to a fault. There were several times neither Mendel nor Sir Duffy stood a chance against, well...what they were facing, unless someone or something stepped in to assist. Good thing these guys were there! Of the two, I'd rather call a gussellsnuff my own as they sound unusual in description but utterly adorable. Now, let's talk story...
While this is the first book in a planned series, it doesn't serve as merely a vehicle to introduce everyone and everything. There's a rather important quest undertaken, secrets that need protection, and those that would have what's hidden no matter the cost. The Don's that visit Sir Duffy's 'A Pot He Carries' (gotta love the play on words there) shop have totally different approaches and yet their steely determination to obtain what they seek is clear as day. How he manages to keep things under wraps is beyond me; most would have cracked like an egg at an Easter hunt without anyone blaming them in the least. (Ooh! Easter....bunnies...the talking rabbits! Oh, they were something else, and determined little fellas too! Sorry, back on track...) Suffice it to say it's in his best interest to stay steadfast to his task and help hide what needs to stay hidden. Sorry guys, I can't spoil the secret for you but trust me when I say, it's creepy and beautiful for so many reasons, and the power it holds is astonishing. Makes me wonder what's gonna happen in future installments that may see it's use as more than a paperweight. *dun dun dunnnnnn*
To conclude, a rather dashing adventure from a new voice in the Middle Grade Fantasy arena that appears to have staying power. Only time will tell of course, but if the next installment is anywhere near the quality of this first venture, I see great things for this writer in the coming years. If you like fantasy, magic done the old school alchemy way, characters that are memorable and bare scars not on the outside but the inside that need healing just as badly if not more, you've got an instant addition to your reading list right here. Recommended for strong Middle Grade readers and beyond due to concepts covered, strong vocabulary used, and the fantasy world created (it's fairly complicated but in a good way!).
About the author...
Margaret Chiavetta graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2005 with her BA degree in Anthropology. Afterward, she moved to Puerto Rico for a year where she spent the hot humid days following around free-range rhesus macaque monkeys. When the study finished, she went from one monkey job to the next, moving up and down the east coast for several years. Then she attempted a primatology graduate program in London, England, but soon developed an allergy to academia. Margaret dropped out and returned to the US and eventually went on to get her MFA in creative writing, graduating from the University of Washington Bothell in 2014. She lives in Seattle.
Special thanks to the author for the copy for review as well as the chance to bring her work to the spotlight. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the next bookish adventures on the horizon from this curious new voice, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!