Review: Alchemystic by Anton Strout

Alchemystic (The Spellmason Chronicles) by Anton Strout
Paperback, 304 pages
Published: September 25th by Ace
Source: Publisher

Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…

This one is technically adult, but really it fits the new adult category and is completely appropriate for YA readers.  As a matter of fact I think that YA readers, or NA readers will be much more satisfied than those going into it expecting an adult urban fantasy.  The characters are young (22) and have a young voice.  Well, except Stanis, who is hundreds of years old.

I liked the book but it took me a little while to get into it.  I think the writing style was a bit different and I was a little shocked that I felt like I was reading YA. I love YA books, it’s my preferred genre, but it’s just not what I was expecting or something.  I’m not sure what the deal was.  But as I got more use to it I found I was enjoying the book.

The characters were pretty good.  I didn’t love Lexi, but I can’t really pinpoint why.  She didn’t really annoy me or anything, I just wasn’t totally feeling her.  I loved her best friend Rory and her friend Matthew, but they were characters that I can see many would find annoying.  Rory has mad fighting skills she never knew she had and I think some would have troubles believing that, even though she is a dancer.  It maybe bothered me a bit. Otherwise though she had a very strong and fun personality and I like that she’s willing to stick with Lexi through anything.   And Matthew is a major D&D nerd and is constantly talking about Dungeon and Dragon stuff through the book.  And other things relating to it, I think.  I’m not familiar with that stuff but basically role playing games.  I really liked Matthew and I think it was neat that he used his gaming skills in real life to figure out how to survive different scraps they’d get into, but I was maybe a tad bit tired of him talking about the gaming stuff.  I think it just became repetitive.  

This leads us to Stanis.  Stanis is a gargoyle, or a grotesque as he prefers to be called.  He’s been dormant, just sitting watch over the home until suddenly Lexi is in danger and since he’s sworn to protect her he keeps showing up to do so.  Lexi is very open minded and accepts the whole thing rather quickly which may have been not so realistic, but I was okay with it.  I hate when they get all in denial about things, so this was better then that.  As far as Stanis’ personality.  I liked him, but his personality doesn’t start showing up too much until later in the book and I still feel like I don’t really know him that well.

I thought this was a great plot and fantastic story line.  I didn’t really know where things would go and the whole spellmason idea was fantastic.  I know it’s not the first time it’s been done, but it’s the first I’ve read of this theme.  So it was great for me.  However I feel like we’ve barely touched on the background of it all and how it works.  Looking back I feel like I don’t really understand the whole thing and Lexi’s ability to magically (not really) pick up the spellmason skills felt a bit far fetched.  But for the most part it was a great plot and story line and I think in the next book we should get a lot more background to it all.

Overall I found I enjoyed the book.  I went back and forth between 3 stars and 3.5, but I think my overall enjoyability of the book is more in the 3.5 star range, so that’s what I’ll rate it.

Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

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  1. I haven’t heard of this one before today. I do like the cover and the synopsis sounds like it would be a good read but I think this is one that I may have to pass on.
    I recently read another book about gargoyles and while I liked it, I just don’t think they are my thing. 😉

    Great review Candace!

  2. I was wondering about this one as I had it on Friday Forecast. Gargoyles are an interesting new vein and I would like to explore them a bit more. Sounds like this might be a good option!

  3. Did Stanis stay in his gargoyle form or did he become some hottie? I’m trying to read a YA novel now called Redemtion about Gargoyles that have come to life. It’s a bit slow going. I was realling thinking “Gargoyles, that’s something new” but really it’s just not there.


  4. I’ve been really enjoying New Adult books. It’s like a little of both worlds. This cover screams adult though so I would have been a but put off by the more YA writing as well I’m sure. But it sounds like a pretty good book, overall, despite the slow beginning. I like that it sounds very different with gargoyles and the likes :)

  5. I had no idea that gargoyles was even a topic that was written about in UF. I’m guessing this is a first book in a series so I think I’m going to wait and see if things are clarified in book 2 before thinking about picking it up. I’ve got way too many series on my plate!

  6. I completely agree with your review! (although in my version the male sidekick is called Marshall; looks like a few different M names were tried). A bit put off by the young adult when I expected an adult fiction style and not connecting well to Lexi. Pretty much everything you mentioned rings true with me also. But still an enjoyable book and an easy read :). Thanks for your candid review.

  7. I actually just put this one on my wish list recently. I haven’t read any of Anton’s work before, but this one sounds promising–and it’s been ages since I read and watched anything with a gargoyle.

    Incidentally, I enjoy listening to his Once and Future Podcast on iTunes, too.

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