Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
People only ever saw what they expected, rarely what was actually there.
“We are people, not worlds. And you commit the faults you blame me for. You judge me for the actions of my entire race. You see me as a Dragon before you see me as a man. You ignore my good will and attempts at peace, only looking for banners of war between my words. And when you find none, you invent them, so that I better fit your expectations.”
This novel definitely has its darker moments, but I only noticed one content warning so I’ll get that out of the way before getting into my review.
- repeated offhanded mentions of ongoing slavery
- Panic attacks
Okay, now let’s dig in. (Warning: I just finished reading it so there’s still a good bit of excitement rolling around and occasionally removing all cohesive thought.) The characters. Oh. My. Gosh. The characters. Each of them has an unexpected level of complexity to the development. Layers upon layers upon layers are laid out for each of the main characters through masterful character development and multiple points of view. I not only found myself understanding the characters, but liking and disliking them in varying amounts as though they were flesh and blood.
I frequently found myself cheering on the friendship that blossoms and thrives between Ariana, Cvareh, and Florence. I wanted them to succeed and to feel like they succeeded. I found myself wanting the opposed parties to fail so badly that even reading from their point of view became slightly frustrating in its own way.
The world building is also beautiful and immersive. I felt like I was on Loom or Nova every moment of the novel. I felt like I was flying through the sky on a glider or racing through the Underground. Each different location and aspect was so perfectly built that if there were any holes I didn’t see them. The use of multiple povs also adds here because I was able to take in different characters’ perspective of the world itself.
I haven’t read a world quite like the one in this story. The Fenthri live on Loom and are generally members of one of the Five Guilds: Harvesters, Alchemists, Rivets, Ravens, and Revolvers. Dragons live above the God’s Line, what we would call the clouds, on Nova. Where the Fenthri have things like technology, Dragons have magic. It’s such a magical steampunk world while still being unique and having its own flair. I love it!
Throughout the story, I found myself getting comfortable with the way things were heading and hoping for Ari, Cvareh, and Flor to succeed in their quest. Of course, before I could allow myself to be completely comfortable with the flow of things, it was interrupted by perfectly timed plot twists. If you’ve been around for a while, you already know there is little I love more than a good plot twist. It was very interesting and immersive and I was kept hanging throughout the story, including the end. Yes, my friends. This story has somewhat of a cliff-hanger. Luckily for all of us, the sequel is due to be released next month and I can not wait to get my hands on it!
*I’m going to add a bit here because now it’s been a bit since I finished reading it and I’ve come to realize how close to my heart this book is for all the aforementioned reasons plus one very important addition: intersectional representation. I didn’t know going into this book that I would find any diversity at all. It wasn’t marketed as a diverse novel and I assumed it was simply another creative Steampunk fantasy, which I can’t seem to get enough of since I discovered the genre earlier this year.
However, now that I’ve had some time to think on it, I realize there’s a deeper reason for my love of this series specifically. The intersection of bi and questioning characters (yes, plural and canon!) and PTSD and anxiety happens so fluidly in this book that I did not even recognize it until I’d had time to process the story. The PTSD and anxiety rep are so accurately portrayed as to call for any content/trigger warnings that such rep would require. I will forever recommend this series to everyone.*
Overall, I rate The Alchemists of Loom 4 out of 5 bookworms.
Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of The Alchemists of Loom and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:
- Amazon US
- Amazon UK
- Books-A-Million (US)
- Barnes & Noble (US)
- Waterstones (UK)
- Book Depository
- your local bookstore or local library
For more information about Elise Kova and her work, visit her website.
**EDIT: I added a bit at the end after fully processing the book.**