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.
Thrilling and absorbing. A Golden Fury surprised me with its strong female lead, not so perfect romance, and fresh take on the “hunt” for the philosopher’s stone.
“He’s not a bad man, Thea,” he said. “You saw him at his worst.”
“What better time is there to know a man than at his worst?”
I loved how we get so many deeply flawed characters that weren’t all good, or all bad. Well, except for Dominic who is basically the light for which every other character’s “goodness” gets measured against. Thea, our sharped edged heroine, has an unhealthy relationship with her mother. Her mother raised her to be like her, but is not affectionate. Thea has learned to protect her heart by protecting it behind a wall full of thorns, specially against her mother. Which means Thea often sees the worst in person and has come to expect it. Specially men. Thea is blunt, and obsessed with surpassing her mother’s career by creating the philosopher’s stone herself. You can see where that might create a few issues. We also get an awesome cast of side characters, mostly men, but I would have liked to actually see Thea creating a strong bond with a fellow brilliant woman.
I am not an expert on history, but I think the author nailed the feeling of helplessness when confronted by a Victorian (?) world ruled by men in which women were only expected to be arm candy and bear the children. I, along with Thea, could feel the pressure of not having options and having to depend on others, and it sucked. I am so thankful to be born in the 21st century 🤣
The plot moved along at a good pace overall. Even the parts where I thought the “action”, as it was, slowed down were welcomed as it allowed the reader to take a breath and really sink into Thea’s state of mind. Every single portion of the novel had a hook and kept me glued to the page and interested in the journey. Thea’s voice is strong and distinctive, and basically grabbed my attention from the very first page. I think this was a great debut novel, and I cannot wait to see what else Samantha Cohoe comes out with in the future!!
PS; I was provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Thanks go to the publisher!