Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Posted April 1, 2015 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 22 Comments

Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Published by Harper Voyager Impulse
Published on: March 24 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 271
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town's dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

freaky CRIME western twisted HORRIFIC

Temperence, Wyoming is an odd place . . .

That’s odd as in seriously creepy, not odd as in . . . a little bit different.

There’s meth cooker called “The Alchemist,” not to be confused with Lascaris, the alchemist whose “discoveries” of gold were the foundation of the town back in the Gold Rush . . .

It’s strongly implied that the “discoveries” were alchemical successes that none have been able to replicate—not for lack of trying—in the 100s of years since Lascaris’ untimely death in a fire that destroyed all of his belongings and research materials . . .

That’s either highly convenient or highly inconvenient, depending on your perspective.

Enter Petra Dee, a geologist searching for her father who happened to disappear 20(ish) years ago, last seen in Temperence, where she’s just accepted a new job.

Would you believe that Papa Dee had an interest in alchemy as well?

SMALL world.

Another strange coincidence would be the curiously familiar profile inside a mourning brooch Petra stumbles across in the town Pawn Shop/Historical Society to the tune of:

“Say . . . that looks like weird dude with the blood that glows who I watched get beat the hell up, but who had nary a scratch on him the very next day . . . ”

Like I said . . . ODD.

So the plot was interesting. But I had a few quibbles:

I picked this up b/c being set in the Midwest and having a bunch of crows on the cover, I figured there’s be a Native American angle, and there was, but alchemy was the bigger focus, which has never been a point of interest for me. YES, I know “alchemy” is in the title, but I was hoping there’d be more to it. There was . . . just not enough . . . for ME.

The Park Ranger is as overbearing as he’s supposed to be, but I’ve never understood the point of having faux love interests—if he’d been an old geezer, the role could have been filled just as well and without the awkwardness.

The message-from-beyond via Bobby Darin song was straight out of LOST.

Overall, better than meh, especially if you like the creepy side of Urban Fantasy. Dark Alchemy has creepy in spades (HA!). Between the aforementioned Alchemist who seems to ooze Mercury, the growing number of highly calcified and deformed almost corpses, and the ranch hands of the local BMOC who dangle underground from the roots of the “Hanging Tree” . . . Like I said . . . creeptastic.

Minus 0.5 stars for referring to a gun as a “toy.” <------not cool, not EVER. Was this review helpful to you? If so, please consider voting for it on Amazon or like it on Goodreads!
Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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22 responses to “Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

  1. I kind of like that this was a mixed genre of sorts. I still can’t believe I had no idea she came out with something new! I have to admit though, I so don’t love the cover.
    Great review Jessica! This will definitely be one I need to read.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…WoW Pick of the Week

  2. Jessica from a GREAT read  

    OOoh interesting! I had my eye on this one! I enjoyed her Alayna Williams books and still need to read her first duology as Laura Bickle. Basically, this author is on my radar, but I haven’t read everything by her! This one sounded interesting, but I was hesitant. I guess the western setting and then the alchemy–I suck at science! I know the alchemy is part magic as well, but I felt like it gets a little sciencey too. At least in past books I’ve read with alchemy in it.

    I will just have to keep this one on my radar for someday! Great review though!
    Jessica recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday

  3. Referring to a gun as a toy is never cool. Nope nope nope! That is just wrong on so many levels.

    It sounds like the world building in this one wasn’t on par with what it was saying it would be and that’s disappointing, Alchemy is cool and all but you know, cannot have too many conveniences!

    I do like that it’s on the creepy side of UF though and I don’t see nearly enough of that!

    Lovely review, hon! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

  4. I don’t think I had ever read a book like that and I confess that I didn’t know what to do at the end of the book. It was so strange but I liked it. I think I would like more development but maybe we’ll have later. Thanks for the review!

  5. I’m reading this one right now (about 3/4 of the way done) and I agree with the creepiness factor, for sure. I was also kinda weirded out about the treatment guns, but I thought that was just a Canadian thing…good to know it wasn’t just me! I get that it’s going a Western vibe, but still. Big fan of Frankie and Maria, hopefully there’s a sequel that explores the Native American spirituality/shamanism more!
    Danya recently posted…Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

  6. Hmm, this sounds…interesting?? 😉 I think maybe I could get past the fact that there isn’t enough Native American lore because I like alchemy – although I do enjoy Native American lore in a story and get rather pissy when I’m expecting it and the story doesn’t deliver enough. *sigh* And creepy can be good, too. Yeah, I’ll maybe read it someday. LOL Great review, Jessica! 🙂
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