The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

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The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Hit and miss paranormal which has some good points but ultimately fails to stand out from the crowd.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9780857076816

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Back in the Middle Ages, Seraphina nearly died. Her boyfriend Cyrus saved her life - at the cost of someone else's. Using his newly discovered Alchemy potion, he transferred her soul into another body. They've now lived over 600 years, changing bodies every decade or so, but Sera is tired of this unnatural existence and is determined to end it. She runs away from Cyrus, ready to die for real this time. When she finds sixteen-year-old Kailey, who's just been involved in a car accident, her good intentions waver and she takes over the dying girl's body. Could this be her chance for a new start?

I found this one a bit hit and miss, to be honest. Some really strong points - notably the development of the intriguing central idea and the way Cyrus, who's a chilling bad guy, build up his 'family' over the years by converting more people. I also liked Kaylee's parents - refreshingly normal - and her friend Noah, who quickly becomes Sera's love interest.

Having said that, I struggled to particularly connect because I didn't find Sera a very interesting main character, and I thought the way she immediately settled into a teenage girl's life to be a little too quick to be believable. Yes, I'm aware that criticising the believability of a paranormal novel like this may be a bit strange, but I always think that everything apart from the paranormal element needs to be very realistic for it to work to best effect. In this case, it's not. There's barely any moments when Kailey's friends or family seem to see anything different in her, and Sera appears to just take over her life with few problems.

I also found it to be a bit rushed. After spending much of the past two years wishing more authors would get to the point and stop taking ages to tell a simple story, I'm starting to find some recent releases are going the other way and could do with being 50 - 100 pages longer to fit everything in. This is one of those books, and while a sequel awaits, an extra few chapters would perhaps have stopped the climax from feeling so rushed.

Overall, I'm not hooked to the point where I'll be desperately chasing down the second book, but I'm probably interested enough in the series to take a look if it comes my way. If you're a huge fan of paranormal fiction you'll probably enjoy this - if it's a genre you can take or leave then there are better books out there to take a look at.

As always, I recommend anyone with any interest in paranormal books to try the superb Caster Chronicles, which start with Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. For a couple of excellent recent releases in the genre, I really enjoyed A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton and found the paranormal/sci-fi hybrid The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor to be completely crazy but quite wonderful.

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Buy The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams at


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