My Thoughts On: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Posted February 8, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 19 Comments

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1)
by Avery Williams 
Published by
 Simon & Schuster BYR 
Publish Date:  January 3, 2012 
256 Pages
Source:  Borrowed
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

The Alchemy of Forever 
by Avery Williams

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
Character-driven stories
 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.   


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


19 responses to “My Thoughts On: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

  1. I have been wanting to read this book! I love what you have to say about the romance and how they can go from one body to the next. With a cliffhanger I may have to wait closer to the next books release date though:)

    • Oh there is definitely a cliffhanger but the book is really really fun. Read it for sure, whether you wait for the next one or not is up to you…I normally do but in this case since the ending was something I thought I had figured out (and did, yay!), I had already come to terms with the cliffhanger.

  2. Have I told you lately how much I like your review format? Also, I think we're totally book soulmates FYI because I loved this book.

    And dude the ending I was like OH MY GODDDDDD and I rushed into the other room to explain the whole story to my boyfriend just to share the ending with someone hahaha.

    Love your review!

    • Thanks Tara! I wish it wasn't so lengthy, but I can't seem to NOT be chatty. I've tried several different formats but this is the one that works best for me and makes the most sense.

      And yeah, this book was really great. But that ENDING – GAH! Kinda brutal, but it definitely has me coming back for more as soon as I can.

  3. I agree with Tara: your review style is divine. So organized and clean. If I could come up with a creative way like this or like they do over at Forever Young Adult, I so would. It keeps the review more sharp, I think, instead of just a jumble of thoughts regurgitated onto my screen.

    ANYWAY, the book. I didn't love it and didn't hate it. It was kind of just….there. And honestly, until I read your review just now, I forgot what it was even about. Thankfully it was a short read! But I am glad you enjoyed it. I feel like we're often on different pages about books, but I HEART YOU SO, so it doesn't matter.

    Plus you're my role model and all 🙂

    • Thanks Jen! Although I love your reviews cause they're so funny sometimes! You're such a doggone witty gal! I've tried just doing paragraphs but I live my life in list format, so it just translates over…

      I notice that a lot of the books that I really love, you tend to rate lower than I would. BUT I kinda have this weird 60's-free-love kinda vibe with books anyway because I'm so selective in what I read. Chances are that if I pick it up and finish it, I've probably liked it.

      Honestly, though, one of my goals in life and in 2012 is to knock out some of those books you always talk about on your TTT lists that I haven't read yet. I'm not even joking. This is a priority of mind. I just have to work it into my life.

  4. I've wanted to read this novel since I first heard of it, but your review has managed to convince me that I NEED to get this book and SOON. It just sounds incredible, and I really want to read it!

  5. Awesome review and like everyone says, your review style is wonderful and so easy to read! I want to read this book too and it sounds a lot like Juliet Immortal. I actually got this from my library but had to take it back because I didn't have time to read it. I need to get it again.
    Truly Bookish

    • Oh! I've wanted to read Juliet Immortal but I haven't yet…I've done that at the library too: checked out books and then had to take them back before reading them. A lot, actually. Eventually, I go back and grab em again. 😉

  6. I love to gasp at endings! I love the overall premise of this one, and I like how we get to see a lot of growth from Sera from beginning to end despite the relatively short page length. The romance with Noah sounds really adorable, yay for no insta love! Outstanding review Asheley, I'm excited to read this one!

    • Jenny: If you like to gasp, my dear, this one is for you. That's all I know to say. I was reading in the car in a parking lot outside of a store because I had a few minutes and I remember throwing my arms up and I did literally gasp out loud. I'm sure the people walking by must've thought I looked quite foolish. But isn't that so much fun with a book, when you can REACT to it??

  7. The premise of this book sounds fantastic – it reminds me a bit of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall…but more supernatural! I love books that dabble in alchemy, but I might have to wait a bit to read it because cliffhanger endings just slay me!

    • Oh! I haven't read Before I Fall yet but I really really want to. And I don't really have experience with alchemy, so I was pretty fascinated with this one. It isn't the longest book in the world, so the alchemy doesn't take up a terrible large amount of space, but it is there and I did like it a lot. But, yeah, that ending…whoa.

  8. Whoooaaaa… How come I haven't heard about this book before?! Seriously?! The way you described it, it sounds like one awesome read. And it seems very original, too! Incarnation, taking over someone else's body, immortality and the main character trying to find a way to kill herself?! OMG! i need this book!

    Thank you, Asheley, for bringing this beauty to my attention, I love you for that!!! <3

  9. Gasping is totes my thing. SO YES DUDE I WANT TO READ THIS. But then I saw Jen's comment about being kind of meh. And I don't love cliffhangers, BUT I do love character development.


    I am overwhelmed with indecision so I think the smart choice is to table the Alchemy of Forever and go read Monsters of Men instead 😉

    • I think Monsters of Men would be the better choice for you personally UNLESS you are doing a readathon or Dewey's and are looking for a quick, easy read and this is in your TBR. At that point – being familiar with your style and what you're reading and stuff – THAT's when I would suggest to you to pull this one out. Otherwise, Todd and Viola are calling you, friend. Well, unless you decide you're in the mood to GASP.

  10. The Alchemy of Forever was too short. I was hooked after just a couple chapters and was sad when there was no more to read. BUT, the end is such a cliff hanger I can't believe I have to now wait for the next book to come out. When does it come out?!! While the plot is for young adults you can tell the writing is professional – so poetic and detailed. Love how the location (SF Bay Area) was brought to life so vividly. Nice work Avery on your first novel. Can't wait for more. Oh, and Im not even close to a young adult and still loved this book. It's for everyone who likes to be swept away from reality for a bit.

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