Synopsis: Wizard Vs. Nazi Warlock Vampires.
It’s a very different World War II.
The Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe and the Allies are forced to recruit and employ wizards to counter their attacks. Among them is the battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job-extract a deadly warlock from Nazi occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.
But France is crawling with the Cruenti, vampiric warlocks who feed off other wizards. When things don’t go according to plan, one Cruenti sets his deadly eyes on her.
Betrayal is everywhere. Even some of her closest allies cannot be fully trusted. Worse still, she finds, she can’t even trust herself. She becomes a woman torn between her charismatic spy lover who offers her what she desires most, and one of her closest confidants, whose soft seductive eyes hold deadly secrets about her past, and the Gray Tower itself.
Plans within plans. Plots versus counter plots. Heists gone wrong, sword-wielding Catholic priests, and the greatest manipulation of history that has ever been seen, is just a taste of what Isabella George is in for, in her final mission.
Bookish things: 322 pages, the cover is quite plain, but that kind of works. If the synopsis doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what would.
What the hell did I just read!?
The Tower’s Alchemist is a complex story, with loads of new and not-so-new ideas being woven together into a completely unique blanket of magic, mystery and mayhem.
Set during World War 2, the story takes us on an espionage-filled spy thriller based in an alternate history where magic is a normal way of life. Secret agents have magical abilities and use them to do their spy business.
Isabella (a.k.a Emile, Noelle and a few other names) is our Protagonist and she’s just a bag full of fun. She seemed to always be getting herself into trouble, oh yeah, that’s coz conflict and trouble are both needed to progress the story. I did get a little sick of her internal dialogue and wished she’d shoosh and let me keep reading the action, but I know it was needed to give enough information to the reader. Sometimes it got annoying though.
There were a lot of competing themes throughout this story, outside of the immediate action of the espionage we had emotional distress and uncertainty, family disfunction and secrets, different spy agencies mixing, death, love and it was all wrangled and wrapped up rather neatly by Alesha.
I wasn’t sure who to trust, much like Isabella herself, there was layer upon layer of lies and secrecy that had to be untangled to get to the truths, the issue of course is that this is only book one of a trilogy, so how many truths could really be uncovered?! Enough to keep me wanting to read book 2, that’s for sure.
The vampires that are mentioned in the book blurb are interesting. There wasn’t any of this sex on a stick vampire…
I’d let him bite me any day yummy!
Instead we’re left with these vicious, gruesome beings that are warped and somewhere beyond humanity. I liked this return to horrific villains even if they were accompanied by some other, not so horrific baddies. Ultimately you got the impression that these guys were truly evil and would stop at nothing to get what they wanted, yet they all had their own drivers for what they wanted and it seemed realistic.
I had issues (as some other reviews have said) with the multiple names for characters and how certain people called certain other people certain names while others called them something different. It was all a little confusing at times. I think this could have been a little clearer.
The story worked well, it was interesting and very different to a lot of other books I’ve read. This was a solid book, one I think anyone who enjoys a bit of magic and history (though not always in the same book) will probably enjoy. This meshing of alternate history and magic with a bit of espionage was an enjoyable read.
If I didn’t get lost in a few places and Isabella didn’t annoy me in a few places this would have easily been a 4-4.5 star book.
A couple of things I noticed:
Agate – does it need to be capitalised?! Other stones/elements mentioned aren’t.
99% – ‘I watched her go into the kitchen ,and I wanted…’ fix comma spacing.