Book Review: “Alchemystic,” by Anton Strout
by Jessica Barton on September 24, 2012
Remember Gargoyles? Miss it?
I have the book for you! Anton Strout, one of my favorite humans(?), is penning a new series about gargoyles! It’s called Alchemystic and, all right, not only is it about gargoyles but Stanis is pretty cool and — crap. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
You may know Anton from The Once and Future Podcast or the Simon Canderous series, which is one of my favorite series ever. (If you want to hear a fun story about the name Canderous, and where Strout gets a lot of his name inspirations, tune into Anton’s episode of my podcast! Anton, Drew and I discuss Knights of the Old Republic for 15 minutes. You’ve been warned.) Or, maybe you don’t know him at all? That’s fine. Here’s a brand new series for you to dive into and look around!
Alchemystic is about Alexandra (Lexi) Belarus, a struggling artist in NYC, and her adventures with Stanis, a FRIGGIN’ GARGOYLE. That’s a super condensed version because I want you to read it and discover for yourself. Before I get into the technical part of the review, here’s an opinion up top: I can’t express to you how much I love this premise. It’s supernatural in a good way and not a genre that has been beaten to death by pop culture. (Yet.) I wish the tagline was “Just a girl and her gargoyle!” but that’s probably… lame.
We can be thankful that the story is not as lame as that. After an unfortunate accident in the beginning, we learn about Lexi and her family (they have their own catacombs! And a lot of secrets…) and we experience a ton of world building that’s necessary to start up a good series. It’s like laying a sturdy foundation for a house, and while I understand that logically, it does get a little bit slow at times. When the action picks up, it picks up very well, and we get to see a lot of excellent character development. The ending leaves this whole world open in a great way, and I’ve already harassed Anton about the second book on the aforementioned podcast because I want to know where it’s all going. RIGHT NOW.
My favorite part of this is the use of magic. It’s a new perspective, but not entirely new, and feels like something that’s going to be so much fun to read about later on in the rest of the series. When you get into the heart of the story (and fall in love with Lexi’s friends), we realize that Lexi is toying with a kind of ancient magic from deep in her bloodline and figuring it out as she goes. It feels organic and interesting, and I’m trying REALLY hard not to spoil it too much here.
How does she meet her gargoyle? Where did he come from? Why are they together? Will there be a lot more? Isn’t Marshall the best kind of nerd?! Wouldn’t it be neat to be a Spellmason?! Guess you’ll have to read it.