Friday, 20 April 2012

The Alchemist and the Angel by Joanne Owen

Bringing the dead back to life
Review by The Mole

Jan is orphaned and living with his Aunt and Uncle. His Uncle decides to take Jan on as an apprentice alchemist and his training is going well when his Uncle dies suddenly. His Aunt then decides to move to Prague so Jan goes with her believing her to be a sincere benefactor. He meets Zuzana, a young girl who helps among the plague victims of the ghettos and she carries secrets with her.

Jan is a trusting youth who fails to see the bad in those who he feels love him. Unfortunately the trust he places in others is not always well placed.

While there is a small amount of love interest it is such a small part of the story it mustn't dissuade readers as the story is sure to entrance and delight the younger readers as Jan sets out to find a cure for the plague - the killer of his own parents. His intentions are totally altruistic while innocent and naive. I have to admit to wanting to shake Jan and say "look behind you" on several occasions and I'm sure younger readers will too.  This I feel will pull them in and engage them in this story.

The story is peppered with myths and legends told incidentally by characters within the plot, but published separately on illuminations made to look like ancient parchment making it very easy for the reader to remember that they have 'stepped outside' the story for a while.

Peppered with real historical figures this is a really nice story with magic and alchemy set in sixteenth century Prague and Vienna. for readers who are around 10+.

Publisher - Orion Books
Genre - Children's Historical/Fantasy Fiction

Buy The Alchemist and the Angel from Amazon

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