Seraphina’s first love made her immortal…her second might get her killed…
After spending six hundred years on earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to swap bodies with other humans, jumping from one vessel to the next, taking the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.
Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting–and falls for the human boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love? -(summary excerpt from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts: I had no idea what to expect going into The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams. I really don’t know all that much about alchemy and I haven’t read too many incarnation books, so the whole idea behind this book was new to me. I was thrilled that I liked the book as much as I did. Now I just have to deal with waiting until the next book is released…
Why Read The Alchemy of Forever?
1. The Characters. These characters are fun! While the main characters are definitely more developed than the secondary characters, they all make the book fun and give this sometimes-heavy story a playful edge.
- Seraphina aka Sera. Seraphina is a 13 year old girl attending a masquerade ball when she is tragically killed just after finding the boy she intends to marry. It just so happens that this boy – Cyrus – is the son of an alchemist and gives Seraphina a potion that can make her live forever. Sera (she changes her name over time) tires of her immortality after about 600 years or so and begins to plan for a way out of it.
- Cyrus. Cyrus starts out as a nice guy, promising his love to Seraphina initially…but over centuries he becomes quite a villain! He becomes controlling, powerful, obsessive, and very wealthy. Reading about Cyrus is like a strange adventure – you realize how awful he really is and how far he will go to get and keep exactly what he wants. Great villain.
- Kailey. After Sera decides that she wants to end her life, she also decides to atone for some of the lives she has taken…she comes across a car accident victim and tries to save her life by performing CPR. Instead, she accidentally takes the soul of young Kailey Morgan, thus extending her life yet again. Really! It was an accident! Now even though Kailey looks the same, she’s really Sera on the inside.
- Noah. Kailey’s lifelong friend…as long as no one is watching. Noah doesn’t understand the sudden change in Kailey/Sera, but he likes it! Suddenly, Kailey is not only being nice to him…but she doesn’t mind being seen in public with him. This is wonderful, since he has sort of been in love with her for forever. I really found myself fond of Noah – he has a rough family life, his crush has treated him poorly, and he gets picked on at school. Noah won my heart and then some.
There are quite a few secondary characters, but none of them are very fleshed out. They are great for fluff and fill-in, and they make the story interesting. I have no problem with this. But that is about as far as it goes for secondary cast development.
Sera, however, goes through quite a growth from the beginning of the book through the end. Though the book is quite short, it covers a great length of time – several centuries – which is plenty of time for Sera to grow as a person, mature quite a bit, and decide for herself the kid of person she really wants to be. I think that is why when she finally became a part of Kailey’s body, she was able to turn Kailey’s reputation around quite a bit. Excellent growth and development for Sera! Loved it.
2. The Premise. Incarnates can live forever by stealing the lives/bodies of other people to keep theirs going. Their souls are untethered and they can move from body to body at will. When they tire of one body, or when one body becomes too old or weak, they just get a new one – no big deal! Taking over new bodies only ensures about ten years within that body, after which it weakens and then turns to dust, forcing the immortal incarnate to choose yet another body to inhabit. This process goes on and on and on…
After so many years of this, both the guilt of taking so many lives and the change in Cyrus have taken their toll on Sera. She is tired of living this way, so she has been planning to let her current body die when it is too weak to last any longer. Of course, this all changes when Sera becomes Kailey.
Sera (in Kailey’s body) tries to adjust to her new life: she’s never attended school, never had to live in a house with rules, and never gone through regular teenage stuff. She realizes that Kailey was not a very nice person and further tries to atone her wrongdoings by making right some of Kailey’s wrongs. She starts with the way Kailey treated Noah. Noah and Kailey begin a great friendship, although for Noah it is more than that – Noah has always had feelings for Kailey. Kailey begins to fall for Noah and a sweet romance begins.
Hiding out in Kailey’s body is also a perfect disguise with which to hide from Cyrus for a little while…or is it? Remember Cyrus goes to great lengths to get what he wants, and there is a reason he has kept Sera for over six centuries…will he let go of her that easily?
3. The Romance. In the very beginning, I thought we are going to get a romance between Seraphina and Cyrus. I soon find out that the relationship between those two was not loving at all. Once Sera becomes Kailey, however, the relationship she begins with Noah IS sweet and grows into a romance. It is not insta-love, but it does move along at a not-too-slow pace. Before long, there are definitely feelings there and they are kinda-sorta swoonworthy. I did enjoy the romance portion of this story!
4. The Writing. This is a very unique book in that is quite fun and quick-paced and carries topics that I think aren’t overly common in YA: alchemy and incarnation. Because there was never a dull moment, I turned the pages fast and finished the book quickly. The book is largely character-driven since there is an absence of very much action – however, there is quite a bit of suspense and I found this very satisfying. Also fun: the nod to historical fiction in the beginning of the book, during the opening scenes. This part is rather short-lived, but I liked it and I thought it set the tone for the rest of the book nicely.
5. The Ending. Heartbreaking and with a massive cliffhanger! While I normally run as far from cliffhangers as fast as I can, this one leaves me DYING to read the next book as soon as it comes out. The ending was somewhat predictable, but this is something that I am okay with as a reader as long as the story is fun and the elements are all well-placed. This fairly predictable ending did not bother me at all, and I still GASPED out loud when I read it. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Ultimately, my experience with The Alchemy of Forever was a very pleasant one! I enjoyed this book very much and am very excited to continue with this series as soon as the next book becomes available to me. I very much want to see where it goes and how one or two things are resolved. I am a bit brokenhearted, though, at a certain turn of events – but even the best of books leave a person brokenhearted at times, ya know?
The Alchemy of Forever is a great one to pick up when you need or want a quick read, perhaps after reading something heavy or very long. I recommend it to YA fans of all ages and I feel it is age-appropriate from younger readers up to adults.
The Alchemy of Forever will appeal to fans of:
Paranormal with a touch of Romance
Strong female protagonist with great development
Quick-paced, easy reads that flow well
Fun Nods to pop culture (Words With Friends, iPhones,
Bon Iver, Broken Bells, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes)
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams is currently available for purchase.
*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review.