Friday, January 23, 2015

The Missing Alchemist by Caldric Blackwell

The Basics:

The Missing Alchemist by Caldric Blackwell

Icasm Press 
Book One in the Young Alchemist series
Children's, Fantasy
Published January 20, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

I haven't read anything middle grade in a while, and I thought the premise was appealing. Plus I recently acknowledged the lack of fantasy books in my life, and that this was probably due to fantasy books generally taking longer to read. I tried to hack this by reading a middle-grade fantasy novel (much shorter than the adult version!)


Having grown up in an orphanage, Craig Pike appreciates his comfortable life as a student of Cornelius, a famous alchemist. But when Cornelius is kidnapped, Craig leaves comfort behind to search for him. Craig teams up with Audrey Clife, a clever archer, and together they travel across mysterious lands and battle otherworldly creatures. Their journey reveals that Cornelius’s kidnapping is only a small part of an evil alchemist’s elaborate grab for power, and the only people standing in his way are Craig and Audrey…
My thoughts:

When I started reading The Missing Alchemist, I expected it to be closer to YA than middle grade, so I was a bit thrown off by the very sparse and straight-forward narration. I have to admit that after thirty-plus pages, I decided to DNF this book.

I do think that the underlying premise of the book is a lot of fun - and I absolutely would have been into this as a child. But! I was disappointed by how simplistic each event in the story was. Each encounter takes no more than a couple of pages, and all of the interactions up to this point in the book were of the most basic kind. I thought that other than the main plot line problem - the titular missing alchemist -, there are no problems that take more than a single approach to resolve. I had to throw in the towel after Craig receives a clue in an all-too-conveniently dropped letter spelling out where to go next. I wanted something a bit more complex, and I think that this age group can handle a deeper, more meaningful story as well.

I did adore the way that the story handled magic in that Craig uses what spells he knows with ease and without hesitation. Sometimes it's nice to have your hero throwing around fireballs without having to mull over the potential consequences or calculate the toll it will take. I also appreciated that he was pretty competent - despite being an apprentice, he does know quite a bit.

Bottom line:

Unfortunately The Missing Alchemist was ultimately too simplistic for my tastes. I do think that a young reader might enjoy the story, but that the middle-grade age group for whom it was written may be hit or miss on this one.

For young fans of fantasy

But don't just take my word for it! Other than Goodreads (which has a few reviews posted!), I found another review at Parakeet Book Reviews and then I found an upcoming book blog tour, starting Feb 2 - so check that out from the tour page at Whirlwind Virtual Book Tours.

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