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16 December 2020

Publisher: Pyr

Written By: Barbara Barnett

RRP: £16.99 / $19.95 (Paperback) | £7.66 / $9.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th December 2020

Alchemy Of Glass is the follow-up novel to Barbara Barnett's The Apothecary's Curse; a cross-genre story seated in a historical fiction setting. In it, Burnett continues the story of Gaelen (our central character, who also happens to be an immortal apothecary). That being said, if you haven't read the previous book, you can jump right in here.

This time around we are thrown further into Gaelen's past, present and future whilst dipping in and out of themes such as mythology, science and ancient lore. There's also a rather worrying foreshadowing of things to come, and one cannot help but feel a parallel with certain world events our our own reality...

One of the things we loved most is how past actions from the previous book are accountable in this one, and in particular lead to an interesting plot point in relation to a returning character. 

The story, characters and sheer drive through Alchemy Of Glass is a true testament to Barnett's skill as a writer, but even more than that, it's her almost poetic way in which she describes her world. You don't even have to venture past the very first page for a greater example of this:

"Gaelan Erceldoune strolled along the water’s edge, zigzagging his way through the detritus washed up on the gravel-strewn shore. Stopping, he gazed at the horizon, only now becoming discernable against the black water.

A lone figure, frock coat billowing in the stiff breeze, stood at the distant point of a decaying wooden pier, staring into the dusky lavender of the pre-dawn sky as daylight advanced in slow ascent."

And again at the start of Chapter 16:

"Shadows crept the catacomb walls as Gaelan made his way through the narrow corridor. The last vestiges of lantern light faded and extinguished. And that damnable tinkling again. Where the fuck was it coming from? Burrowing into his head, it had become a discordant concerto, disorienting and setting the darkness isorienting and setting the darkness to relentlessly spin around and through him."

Two completely contrasting settings, but equally described in a rich, almost mesmerising way. Fantastic!

Contrast is a tool that the author uses to great advantage; from the cross-genre settings, the thematic disparate of darkness and light, to the locations of this story - (we begin in Chicago and end in the UK), you're always guessing what's coming next and never sure of what to expect. 

We have no idea if there will be a third story in this series, but we are hopeful. Barnett has crafted a unique masterpiece and if anything, has actually created an even better book than the first!

+  Alchemy Of Glass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @B_Barnett (Barbara Barnett) on Twitter.

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