Plot Summary: Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets that could completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. However, this doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart—literally.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Alchemy of Stone is a haunting steam-punk novel, well written and entirely engaging. It brings the reader into the world of Ayona, a city plagued by the distention between two opposing political parties, the Mechanics, those who have power over the physical, and The Alchemists, a group geared towards the mystical and scientific. Ayona is also home to the gargoyles, a live race born from the earth who enlist the help of Mattie, our endearing automaton lead character, to find the cause behind their imminent deaths. Add to that the viability of Alchemy in this world that allows roots and animal parts to have strange, surprising powers that include creating small creatures which act as procurator to control others, a Soul-sucker who is widely feared for his ability to remove and entrap the human soul, and an intriguing blend of steam-punk and fantasy and you get a world which is fun and easy to continue exploring.
The characters are not all as easy to follow. Mattie, meets and engages with many other characters throughout this novel, and not all of these interactions are fully explored, nor explained. Mattie, who has a tangible dependency on her creator, Loharri, bounces back and forth between understandably hating him for keeping her less than free, and loving him for his creation of her. The internal battle leans more towards hatred, as she plots against him in an attempt to get her key, but the entire relationship seems more like out-of-place inconsistency then anything else. The relationship she has with the gargoyles, a brief meeting, and a few very stilted interactions, seemed oddly lacking, and the affection found between the two in the end seems as if it should have been built upon more in the beginning. Some relationships did work, such as Mattie’s concern for the Soul-smoker, an elderly blind man whose job it is to consume the souls from the dying or dead, and those found guilty by the ruling class. Her continuous desire to see him safe, and taken care of seems genuine, and the fact that she lacks a soul contributes to their friendship. Despite all this, the story flies by, each page being as well written and intriguing as the last, and I found myself unable to put it down.
In closing: A very enjoyable read! After I finished I had quite a few questions about some of the loose ends which could have been tied up, and the characters/relationships could have been fleshed out more, but Ekaterina’s talented writing voice, and imaginative mind keep the reader entirely engaged. I found my self pleasantly haunted after turning the last page, and the story struck a chord somewhere deep. I Recommend this book to anyone looking for a pleasant read filled with twists, turns, and a great author’s provocative prose.