From USA Today best-selling author Gigi Pandian comes a modern tale of ancient intrigue.
Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can't help but notice she's picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle - not to mention a master of French cuisine - and he needs Zoe's expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who's trying to put her old life behind her, isn't so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice.
©2015 Gigi Pandian (P)2014 Audible Inc.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
This was a fun, light listen, helped along by the narration of Julia Motyka who has a brilliant sense of rhythm and character.
If you're looking for "hard fantasy" with wizarding duels and ultimate struggles between good and evil, you should look elsewhere. What you get here is a pleasant fantasy that sticks to the plausible, but not the real.
"The Accidental Alchemist" has a lot packed into it; fantasy, romance, mystery, —and cooking? Yes, at the heart of the story is the equation of alchemy and herbal vegan cookery which, when you think about it, might be the closest modern equivalent to turning lead into gold (though sometimes the reverse as well).
The characters in this audiobook are what will keep you coming back. The realest and most endearing being the most unlikely—a gargoyle who loves cooking and Agatha Christie mysteries, but is in danger of being trapped in stone. Would that most books had more human characters that charming and sympathetic.
I enjoyed Julia Motyka's narration very much. However, the story didn't hold my interest. The pace of the story moved so slowly that by the end I really didn't care who stole the book. If the characters had talked about one more meal or cup of tea...well, I was ready to scream with frustration! A very disappointing end to a promising beginning.
I wanted to like this, I really did. The premise seemed so promising: an ageless alchemist who's been hiding in plain sight for centuries, a living gargoyle with an mysterious alchemical text and a murder that may or may not have something to do with any of the above.
Unfortunately, Zoe Faust is without a doubt the MOST IRRITATING protaganist I've encountered in a long time (and I include Scarlet O'Hara in that list, so that tells you something!). People steamroller right over her at every turn and she just blithely goes on her merry way.
The gargoyle appears in her life demanding, not asking, for her help with the mysterious book. Then becomes irate when it is not her first priority. Then, when the book is stolen from her home, berates her for going out for a walk (if it's such a priority, why didn't he safeguard it himself). And he uses her credit card, without her knowledge, to buy an espresso machine and subscription to Le Match (BTW when EVER has a subscription started arriving the next day???). Instead of telling him where to put his precious book, she tells him to ask next time if he wants to buy something and has a cup of tea.
A teenage boy breaks into her home and eavesdrops on her & the gargoyle. He, in her presence, openly snoops through her shelves and cupboards. Then attempts to manipulate her into teaching him alchemy. Then RECORDS the gargoyle cooking, so he can prove the gargoyle is real. Then lets himself into her Airstream trailer "looking for a snack." And, instead of sending down the road with a flea in his ear, she bandages the arm he cut breaking in and has a cup of tea.
For someone who has lived as long as she has, she is remarkably clueless. And allows far too many liberties as far as I'm concerned. How on earth has she managed to survive as long as she has?
There's being agreeable and being a doormat. Zoe is a doormat.
And she drinks a lot of tea.
There is a LOT of discussion of vegan menus, vegan cooking, vegan food options. And I gather there are recipes at the end of the hardcopy (I haven't gotten to the end yet, so I don't know if they're included in the audiobook recording).
There is some interesting information about alchemy, but not a lot.
Oh, I forgot about the murder... Which isn't surprising because, by and large, Zoe does, too. A man is murdered on her porch and her house is burglarized at the exact same time. Does she take any precautions? No, she goes wandering alone through the woods and stops to have a cup of tea. She doesn't even deal with her lock situation for a couple days.
I'm only sticking with it to the end, because I AM curious about that - but will be gritting my teeth every time Zoe allows people to just walk all over her. Maybe I'll start my own drinking game and have a drink whenever anyone mentions that she's vegan.
And, when I'm done, I will likely delete it from my iPod.
The performance of this book was terrific. I would happily read more books performed by this narrator. The story was promising, but slightly annoying in that the character continually 'forgot' things, or couldn't quite figure things out. This made her character being am alchemist a lot less believable... but, it's a story with a gargoyle, so...
I have not read the print version, but I imagine it would be just as good as the audio.
It had a great ending that left me smiling and in a good mood.
This was the first time hearing Ms. Motyka's, but i loved her performance. She did a great job with all the voices.
What moved me the most was the main characters need to help Dorian. Though at times it seemed so drawn out and moved slowly. Dorian was slowly turning to stone again and instead of working on the book, which she should of been doing she was taking long leisurely baths and slowly sipping her tea and taking long walks. Didn't remind me of someone who should of been busy saving Dorian.
The book was very good just too drawn out.
Chick Lit Lover
Anyone that is into gardening and herbs, and a vegan lifestyle would maybe enjoy this.
The Perfume Collector
Probably not. I felt like I was a little kid being read to by a well meaning but up tight adult in the library.
I would remove about half of the herb and garden descriptions. The author probably used every single name for an herb or flower ever known to man, and then discussed how to use each one and cook with each one. I get it - you know a lot about herbs already!
I can't comment on how it ended, I only made it 4 hours into it. The pace was excruciatingly slow, the over abundance of garden/herb verbiage and the unlikable characters were just too much for me. And the almost condescending tone of the narrator just pushed me over the edge. Glad I bought this one on sale.
Very entertaining and recommended to all my friends.
Really enjoyed the charachters
She does a good job
Yes finished listening to it in one day.
I found this book to move pretty swiftly. It kept my attention and I had a hard time putting it down. I also really enjoyed the narration of the book. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Compared to how alchemy factors in Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy this is a much lighter view. Zoe Faust is an natural alchemist, trained at a young age to perform the more spectacular transformations, she prefers working with herbs and plants. She uses that knowledge to identify poisons and toxic combinations just by smell. I found her a likable character with believable flaws and traumas from her past. The narrator does a wonderful job with all the characters and accents. I look forward to more in the series.
"Entertaining Urban Fantasy"
Promised much, didn't quite deliver....but it was an entertaining performance. The narration by Julia Motyka was excellent. The story premise was excellent and, indeed, started off well, but everything started to slide down hill from two-thirds through the story. The reveal at the end was weak, to say the least. I was disappointed. I hope that the writing in the follow-up book in this series improves because, as I've said before, the premise is excellent, but I won't be purchasing it to find out. Once was enough.
What a pleasure when you find a really great book. The story has characters that you can relate to and follow with relish as it unfolds. I recommend wholeheartedly .
Zoe has been accused of being a witch in the past, so it doesn't help her plea of normalcy when she arrives in town with a talking gargoyle and a dead body in the porch.
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