A fantastic epic fantasy

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moukthika Avatar


Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an early copyin exchange for an honest review.

"The Scarlet Alchemist" is an enthralling new historical fantasy novel set during an alternative Tang dynasty. The story is centered around the protagonist, Fan Zilan, who dreams of becoming a royal alchemist and providing for her family by creating alchemical gold and gems that the wealthy can consume to stay young forever. However, she is currently trapped in her impoverished village in southern China, forced to practice illegal alchemy to earn a living by resurrecting the dead for a price.

When Zilan gets an opportunity to go to the capital to compete in the imperial exams, she becomes embroiled in dangerous politics. The novel's underlying themes revolve around class differences and how the rich exploit the poor. The author's ability to weave these themes into the story without detracting from the plot is commendable.

One of the main relationships that I enjoyed was between Zilan, Wenshu, and Yufei. The three characters are intertwined in a way that enhances the story's depth and emotional connection. Although I haven't read many stories on alchemy, this is one of the best. The author's portrayal of alchemy is captivating, and it was fascinating to see the various ways in which alchemy was used and often misused by the rich. The love interest, Hong Li, was a refreshing character. Throughout the story, we witness his growth and how he realizes his willful ignorance. His character arc is well-written and adds depth to the story.

The plot had some twists that I didn't see coming, and it managed to capture my attention throughout. The author did an excellent job of building suspense and keeping the pace of the story engaging. The story's darker elements were handled with care and added to the story's overall appeal.

Overall, "The Scarlet Alchemist" is a solid start to a fantasy duology, and I'm excited to read its sequel. The author's writing style is impeccable, and the story's characters and plot are well-developed. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or fantasy novels.