Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst tells the tale of Sophie and Josh Newman who are immediately swept up into the immortal Nicholas Flamel’s crazy and magical world. From the moment you start reading this book you will realize that what might feel like a lifetime of conflict is really just a couple of days! How that much conflict could possibly happen in a few days is beyond me, but then again it is magic.
Regarding the characters, I really did enjoy the idea of these twins and their role in the book, although this isn’t established until later in the story line. At the beginning, it was a little difficult for me to get into the characters, especially when Josh was depicted as an extreme scaredy-cat at all times while his sister seemed to not be afraid of anything and seemed to deem herself as the more intelligent of the two. I understand wanting to not fit a stereotype, but it went a bit overboard to the point that it wasn’t realistic anymore. Now, if Scott had written Josh to be scared of things Sophie wasn’t and vice versa that’s believable, or that each twin was smarter in different areas that would have done the same thing. But instead, he made Josh a dumb and scared boy and Sophie the intelligent and brave one. That being said, Sophie’s transformation at the end is beautiful to read and I hope that Josh’s character will also continue to be developed in the following books.
The pacing of this story is very confusing. Sometimes it would feel too fast while at other times it went too slow. For the most part, the story was written from Josh and Sophie’s perspectives, but would switch between them and the villain, Dr. John Dee. Normally I am all for this, however, I thoroughly disliked reading from Dr. John Dee’s POV. For one thing, there were many times where I would find out what Dee was going to do next before it even happened essentially giving everything away. I don’t want to be told what’s going to happen next every other chapter before it actually occurs. I prefer to experience these things as the story develops. It also didn’t seem to add anything to the story until the very end of the book, which is a little bit too late for me.
On the note of Dr. John Dee, he doesn’t seem to be a very strong villain. He is basically a pawn used by the Dark Elders and acts like he is a bad guy, but nothing seemed to convince me to be afraid of him except that he has powers and attacks him. He doesn’t seem to have any reason except that he is doing this because he was told to. It would have been better if the story had switched between the twins perspectives and, say, the Crow Goddess’. Now she’s a villain with potential. Overall, this is a well-written tale with plenty of juicy turmoil to keep you plowing on through the pages. The author’s tone and writing style is lighthearted but becomes delightfully gritty as you go along. Within these pages, you will be swept up into a vivid and imaginative world at every turn.