Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst
By Michael Scott
Published by Random House Children’s Books, 2008
400 pages (paperback)

He holds the secret that can end the world.
The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.
The records show that he died in 1418.
But his tomb is empty.
The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.
Sometimes legends are true.
And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time. (from

I had been wanting to read this book for a while, but it was checked out pretty much all of last year and I didn’t get around to it this summer. So, when my husband, son and I had to head up to Minnesota for a family reunion, I chose this to be our audiobook because 1) I had heard it was awesome and 2) I thought that it might be a book that both my husband (enjoys fantasy & creatures that talk) and I (enjoys books about teens & drama/angst) might like. As usual, I was right.  

This book hooked us from the beginning. Explosions. Magic. Good vs. evil. Immortals. Secrets. Historical & mythological references. Car chases. Creepy creatures. Sibling bonding/rivalry. Witches. Vampires.

Sometimes I can guess what will happen next in a book, but I couldn’t with this one. Every scene was another plot twist. The only thing I expected was to expect the unexpected. The mortal characters in this book, Sophie and Josh, also start out in disbelief at all the things they are encountering. As the book goes on they start to expect anything and that is when I, as a reader, also began to feel like anything is possible. At one point I read something unbelievable and thought to myself, “why, of course he would have that.” This was a great story, but it also made me think as a reader about what is possible.

Admittedly, there are a lot of fantastical creatures and some of them I had trouble imagining. I mean, thugs made out of mud? Really? But this was a really creative book that stretched my imagination as well as what I knew about myths, folklore, fairy tales, and history (though it was ok if I didn’t know about those things). Sometimes with books that incorporate the past, present, and fantasy, everything gets jumbled up and it is confusing. However, this book puts everything together well and engages the reader. Plus, the author’s writing style makes reading fairly quick & easy and although there are a lot of descriptions, it is a fast-paced book.

This is the first in a series of books (why do I always get sucked into series?). I have already gotten through most of the second book and have the third book waiting. If the rest are as riveting and imaginative as the first, I think I will get through the series quickly (though I will have to wait a while for the last book!).  

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