I adore Kylie Lee Baker’s duology, The Keeper of Night. So when I saw The Scarlet Alchemist I knew I had to read it. And I love this even more than I thought I could! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Zilan dreams of becoming a royal alchemist, of providing for her family by making alchemical gold and gems for the wealthy to eat in order to stay young forever. But for now, she’s trapped in her impoverished village in southern China, practicing an illegal form of alchemy to keep food on the table—resurrecting the dead, for a price.
When Zilan finally has the chance to complete her imperial exams, she ventures to the capital to compete against the best alchemists in the country in tasks she’ll be lucky to survive, let alone pass. On top of that, her reputation for raising the dead has followed her to the capital, and the Crown Prince himself seeks out her help, suspecting a coming assassination attempt.
The more Zilan succeeds in her alchemy, the more she gets caught in the dangerous political games of the royal family. There are monsters lurking within the palace walls, and it’s only a matter of time before they—and secrets of Zilan’s past—catch up with her.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
From the beginning, I was excited for The Scarlet Alchemist. I love necromancy magic and so I have it as my mission to read all necromancy books. And The Scarlet Alchemist fits the bill. Not only did I love the alchemical magic, but I loved that it has a cost. A real sacrifice to be paid and with dubious results. But my love for this book didn’t merely stop at the world. I loved the characters. I have a thing for ruthless, driven, heroines who don’t mind things getting a bit, cough, bloody.
So Zilan is exactly my brand of cleverness, the kind that cuts both ways. A driven determination which just made implode. But what truly made me love Zilan was her love for her siblings. The chaotic trio they make. They are there for each other, even as they insult each other. Even further, Zilan’s biracial heritage is something I loved, and connected with, in The Keeper of Night. Not only is it an essential piece of her character, but also of the world – no spoilers!
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And, when it couldn’t get any better, I loved how The Scarlet Alchemist examines class, privilege, and the wealth gap. The price money exerts and its value. The decisions that are open to some versus others. If you love magical cut throat competitions, power plays of the nobility, soft cinnamon rolls, and fierce heroines pick this up! Find The Scarlet Alchemist on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Bookshop.org, & Blackwells.