Hidden City of Alchemy


Young Adult - Adventure
204 Pages
Reviewed on 03/29/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Hidden City of Alchemy is a work of fiction in the action, adventure, and steampunk sub-genres and was penned by author Melissa H. Coleman. Accessible to both young adult and adult audiences with its combination of alternative history, romance, science fiction concepts and plenty of thrills, this truly charming tale takes the unconventional Lizzie Peters for its heroine. Lizzie would rather be an inventor than follow the path towards housewives and family that is expected of her, so when her mother goes missing and it turns out she’s been kidnapped, Lizzie steps up as her would-be rescuer. So begins an incredible journey to France and a terrifying plot of chemical warfare that could destroy the whole world.

Author Melissa H. Coleman weaves an excellent tale amid the cogs and gears of the galvanized world of steampunk, and her atmosphere is spot-on for fans of the genre. Lizzie’s inventive ways give us ample opportunity to engage with a sharp and intelligent heroine who still has flaws and things to learn on her incredible journey. The emotional heart of the tale lies with the rescue of her mother and her own growth, although there is a delightful little romance element too, and it’s that inner strength and empowerment of Lizzie which makes the novel truly special for its genre and type. Overall, when you read Hidden City of Alchemy you can expect witty dialogue, well-described steampunk hi-jinks and gadgetry, and a thrilling plot that all adventure fans are sure to adore.

Lit Amri

“This is a story about secrets. A terrible legacy better left unknown, a threat to both our worlds. It’s about guilt, shame and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge so powerful it consumed me. A story about protecting something precious and dangerous.” Twenty-four-year-old Elizabeth Peters is an intelligent young woman who wants more out of life than being ushered into a life of marriage to a rich pompous man. Little does she know that a fateful adventure awaits her. Her family has an obligation to protect their ancestor’s dangerous creation from falling into the wrong hands. Failure means the end of humanity. Hidden City of Alchemy is an exciting steampunk sci-fi adventure by Melissa H. Coleman.

It’s the 1920s and it’s not the roaring era that we know from history. Set in London and Paris, it’s a world that steampunk fans love; steam-powered machinery, automatons, airships, and other marvelous inventions. The world-building easily boosts the mysterious aspect of the story as protagonist Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Peters searches for her kidnapped mother while learning the ancient secret of her family. Albert Bourdillon, a street-wise member of a secret order chosen to watch over her, becomes her ally and love interest. The budding romance between the two is greatly balanced with the suspense and thrilling dangers that sometimes edge toward the sinister side of humanity. This alternate version of history involving the Nazis and a famous historical figure in a field of alchemical science gives the plot substantial depth. Overall, Coleman's Hidden City of Alchemy is a great steampunk tale. I would love to read more of her work in this genre.

K.J. Simmill

In Melissa H. Coleman's Hidden City of Alchemy, Albert had been watching Lizzy for two years, protecting her from the shadows, but when she fled wearing the blue ring, he knew he had failed. With her mother missing, and a family secret that could spell the end of all, Lizzie must quickly discover her heritage, a past shrouded in riddles and possessing secrets she could not even imagine. She cannot do it alone. Luckily with Albert beside her, and those sworn to protect history's secret, she will have support, but when faced with an enemy with endless resources and no conscience, the path will be more difficult than she could ever imagine.

Melissa H. Coleman's Hidden City of Alchemy offers a unique writing style that switches between narration and third person, with the narrator adding snippets sometimes during the third-person perspective. While I'm not a fan of this particular style, it was executed well in a way that would appeal to a younger reader, but the action and maturity of some scenes steer it more to a young adult audience. The plot is filled with mystery and secrets from the start, some of which begin unfolding with the plot. I enjoyed the steampunk setting, and how the author created a nice balance, mentioning the things often associated with steampunk, without it becoming overpowering to the plot.

Lizzie's journey is wrought with peril, danger, and uncertainty, and watching her solve clues and riddles to unlock the secrets of her ancestor's past and the present danger was gripping. In a way, it reminded me in parts of The Davinci Code, The Ninth Gate, and Angels and Demons, in the sense they all are filled with riddles, high stakes, action, and mystery. Hidden City of Alchemy offers the reader an enjoyable and entertaining adventure, where stakes are high and danger lurks around every bend.