Title: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: 13 October 2020
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Page extent: 320 pages
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.
Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve spoken quite a few times on here that I’ve been really struggling with YA fantasy this year. But over the past few months, I’ve been going in with low expectations (or no expectations), and that actually seems to be boding well for me because I was pleasantly surprised by YA fantasy, A Golden Fury!
A Golden Fury is a science heavy fantasy all about alchemy, set in a time where female alchemists were very frowned upon. We follow a young alchemist, Thea, whose mother is the most famous female alchemist in the world. She’s also neglectful and abusive and when her mother seems to go mad, Thea is sent to live with the father who doesn’t even know she exists. Thea works out that the journey to create the Philosopher’s stone is what caused her mother’s madness, so when she gets to her father and finds him and his companions just as hungry for the stone, she must try to save the ones she loves from the madness. And the only way to do that is by creating the stone herself so she pays the price of madness and not them.
The first 40% or so of this novel is my favourite. It’s full of brilliant scenes all around alchemy. I loved how much detail has been put into this science, there is so much detail about the process of alchemy and I loved this! This heavy science is probably not for every reader, but it’s one of the things I love most about adult fantasy/scifi and a key thing missing in a lot of YA fantasy I read, so I just adored that we had so much information about the actual science behind the magic.
Despite my love for the science, and as much as I enjoyed this book, I did leave the book just feeling a little well, lack of any feeling. This book was fine, it was okay, but I didn’t leave the book with any overwhelming feeling of passion, either good or bad. I think one of the main reasons for this is that none of the characters felt very genuine in their actions. I never trusted Will from the second we first meet him, so the whole romance storyline and Thea willing to give up her mind for him just felt a little ridiculous. It could have been a really powerful story because I think Thea’s strength and determination were written really well, but because the romance was so central to her actions and the romance was the most lacklustre part of this book, it meant I struggled to believe how someone supposedly as smart as Thea could act like she does (much like how Rahel feels towards her actually!) Add that to her father’s actions, and the sudden forgiveness of him, it just didn’t feel hugely genuine to me. Unfortunately, the key driving plot of this book does surround the romance and Thea’s feelings for Will, so if that doesn’t hit right for you, this story will feel a little lacking.
It’s in no way a bad book! I enjoyed reading this, the science is very cool, I just didn’t leave it with any particularly strong feelings. I hope others have better luck with it!