I received a copy of A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe from NetGalley and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.
I found myself unable to put this book down while I was reading it. It’s an intense read that asks a lot of philosophical questions. A lush realistic fantasy that warns the readers – what will you give up for power?
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
Seeing the sacrifices that several characters make for unlimited wealth and power is scary. The Philosopher’s Stone, the end all-be all of power, which allows an alchemist to turn any metal into gold, is also what will bring about the last alchemist. After watching her mother go mad, Thea fails to see the warning signs of attempting to make the Philosopher’s Stone as she heads to England to find her father and continue her mother’s work.
For starters, Thea is an interesting character. She’s not in the pursuit of power, but in the pursuit of an item strong enough to heal her mother, her friend (and hopeful lover) Will, and her new friend Dominic. Meanwhile, she almost gladly gives up the information on how to make this stone and watches those around her fall mad. It shocks me how smart and yet clueless she is at the same time.
But in her pursuit to help others, her other motivation of impressing her mother, also rears its head during her work. It was interesting to see her motivations change and come to light throughout the book. Thea is not power hungry, but she is desperate to make a statement. To be unforgettable, like her mother.
Along the way, she meets Dominic who I adored. One of the most genuine people Thea could have found herself acquainted with, and a total gentleman. And of course, her father, who didn’t even know she existed and let her stay in his home. At first. Plus, we have her interactions with Will, her almost lover her mother banished after finding out about their affections for each other. He’s a smooth talking, lover boy who makes Thea feel alive, and is just as desperate to get his hands on the stone. He’s a bit complicated.
Now, for the actual plot, I enjoyed a lot of this book. I didn’t find any moments slower or duller than others, which is probably why I sped through this book so quickly! But one thing I did have an issue with is Thea’s big mouth. She remarks that an alchemist must never share their secrets, lest someone else steal their ideas and their work. But then she goes around and tells people how to make The Philosopher’s Stone! It’s such a “DUH” moment that it got me so frustrated.
And then, even after seeing her mother go mad, she doesn’t connect the dots to the curse fully. She suspects that might be the reason, but it’s not until two other people go mad that she realizes there’s an issue. It’s infuriating. But, then again, it’s something I would do – so I can’t really be mad.
Besides her cluelessness, Thea was a fun character and her story was interesting one. I loved Thea’s motivations, the new friends she makes in her attempts to help her mother, and the pure betrayal that made me so angry! I thought this book was really good, so good I basically read it in one sitting. We have historical fiction, fantasy, and a smidgen of romance. It’s the perfect combination!
This was a fun read and a // 5 stars for me!
If this book sounds interesting, check out Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers or The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty!
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