The Alchemy of Moonlight is perfect for readers who want to read a YA gothic fantasy with werewolves. I found myself slowly falling in love with the characters and especially Emile. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
When Emile’s aunt declares he must marry or be disowned for being gay—he runs away to hide as a servant in Count Montoni’s mansion. In their service, Emile tends to the family who all suffer a strange affliction on the full moon. And after overhearing suspicious family arguments, he finds a body on the estate, drawing the attention of a handsome doctor as well as the count’s charismatic nephew, Henri.
Before Emile can sort out his affections or unravel the growing Montoni family mystery, his identity is revealed and his aunt comes to collect him.
When she arrives, Count Montoni forces everyone to depart to the remote Udolpho Castle—where there are no witnesses and no chance for escape. There, Emile realizes that he will have to risk his life to find the love he deserves—and survive the Montoni family.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: domestic abuse of a side character, homophobia
The Alchemy of Moonlight is a perfect combination of regency gothic setting with fantasy. Ferraro details a rich setting of inheritances and dangerous gardens. In order to gain his inheritance and be free of his aunt’s homophobia, Emile goes undercover as a servant hoping to wait out the six months until his birthday. The foundation of the story is Emile’s desire to be seen and loved for who he is. To live a life where he’s free to choose and not forced to marry in name only.
From the beginning, I loved Emile’s character as he struggles to be a proficient servant all while fighting for the hope for love. Emile’s situation is incredibly precarious and dangerous risking losing his fortune, but also institutionalization. My heart was in my chest for Emile. The Alchemy of Moonlight is a story which creeps up on you. Ferraro sprinkles in elements of the supernatural, clues, and disbelief. With love triangle vibes – albeit with some pretty complicated mistakes – Emile’s story forces him to find people who can see him.
The Alchemy of Moonlight does not shy away from the ways in which nobility offers certain privileges and the dangers Emile would feel as a servant – and a queer person. This debut explores characters who want to love freely. Who have to engage in a secretive dance to find out if it’s safe to profess affection, who have to hide who they are for safety and just want someone who loves them for who they are. Plus I enjoyed the supernatural element especially towards the end – even if it felt a bit hastily wrapped up.