Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness. While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists. But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
A Golden FuryFeatured
Thea Hope is the star of this book! Told entirely from her POV, I found myself hooked to her immediately. She is not like your typical heroine of the time period. She isn’t in need of a man to save her. On the contrary, Thea plans to do the saving. She’s smart, distrusting, and slightly desperate. After her mother succumbs to the alchemist’s curse in her attempts to create the stone, Thea is forced out of a revolutionary France into the countryside of England and the home of her unknown father. To say she is happy about any of this is laughable. Thea is angry and wants nothing more than to return to her mother and save her. She knows that she is the only one that has cracked her mother’s code and can create the stone to save her from the curse. But nothing is ever that easy.
Desperate to prove herself among the men, Thea shows her father her mother’s notes. This becomes the catalyst that leaves her and her father’s apprentice, Dominic, on the run. The plot of this one is fast moving. I had a hard time sitting it down once I started. I had to know what would happen. I love the bits of science and alchemy the author throws in with the danger of what Thea must do. It’s all believable, making what occurs that much more interesting. Thea faces a mad scientist, heartbreak, and a gang of Prussians in her quest, and yet that doesn’t stop her.
Overall I really enjoyed A Golden Fury. I liked how science is interwoven with fiction, how the history of the time period affects what happens to the characters, and the bits of romance the author teases us with. I’m not going to lie, I wanted more romance, but it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment without it. If you like historical fiction with a bit of romance, adventure, and fantasy thrown in, I highly recommend you grab a copy of A Golden Fury today!
After her mother succumbs to madness, Thea goes to live with her father, who did not know she existed, in England. There, alchemy is not really acknowledged, and he teaches chemistry, practicing alchemy in secret. He and his colleagues and working to finish the Philosopher's Stone. Thea knows the path they need, as she and mother had finished the steps, but she soon becomes wary of the madness that gripped her mother, fearing that the creation of the stone is what causes it. However, being a girl, most are unwilling to listen to her.
What I loved: The setting was really interesting, and I love the tidbits about alchemy that we get through the book. This was a new twist on the Philosopher's Stone and it ended up being really clever. Thea was an interesting character having been treated with love-hate by her mother, but raised to follow in her shadow. Her life has not always been easy, and she's developed an interesting attitude as a result. I overall enjoyed her story.
What left me wanting more: The book is a little slow and long-winded in places, and I found it a bit of a slow read for that reason. It was not a book that I found particularly engrossing.
Final verdict: Overall, this was an intriguing YA historical fantasy that tackles some interesting topics. Would recommend for people who enjoy a slower-paced, character-driven read.
What I Loved about A GOLDEN FURY:
-The pace- From the first chapter, A GOLDEN FURY takes a quick pace and doesn't let up. There are twists and intrigues building on one another throughout. This is definitely the kind of book you could be compelled to read in one sitting.
-The premise- I love historical fantasy, and Cohoe's France and Oxford feel realistic, the alchemic ideas fitted snugly in the setting. I particularly enjoyed how we got to see France on the verge of revolution as well as Oxford where many people were headed to escape the chaos.
-Thea's passion for science- It's always wonderful to see characters with a passion for STEM areas, historical or otherwise, and Thea's dedication to science is one of her best characteristics. You can feel her passion for it and her desire to contribute to the field and make a name for herself. She is well aware of the limitations society has on women but she perseveres anyway.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Unfortunately, outside of Thea, most of the secondary characters felt flat. They seemed to have little depth or development. There were some scenes where it felt we were finally going to get more from some characters only to have it cut short. While I liked Thea, it would have been nice to have the secondary characters rounded a bit more.
Something about the story left me wanting more. I'm not sure if it was the resolution or the relationship development or quite what it was exactly, but at some point, the promise of the premise didn't match my expectations at the end. As with any review, I definitely think this is subjective and plenty of readers could walk away completely satisfied.
If you want a story that takes on the concept of alchemy, places it in historical France/Oxford, and throws in high-stakes/lives-at-risk kind of plot lines, A GOLDEN FURY is for you.