A Winter Cosy

Gigi Pandian The Accidental Alchemist

This is a rather charming, cosy read, perfect for a winter’s afternoon (to be published January 2015). It has quirky characters and could be classified as urban fantasy, perhaps YA, cosy mystery, or a paranormal romp. It’s a quick light read.
Gigi Pandian previously has written the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery (ongoing) series. Her debut novel Artifact (2012), won the William F Deeck Malice Domestic award. This series includes Pirate Visnhu (2014), with Quicksand to be published March 2015. A short story The Hindi Houdini was shortlisted for both Agatha and Macavity awards.
Midnight Ink publishes this tale of a 300 year old herbalist/witch/alchemist Zoe Faust who specializes in spagyrics- plant alchemy which extracts the healing property’s of herbs. She is finally ready to settle down (Portland Oregon), buys and old house, starts to unpack, when all sorts of things happen. 1) The most wonderful character of the book shows up: an impish gargoyle who stowed away in her belongings from France and who desperately needs her help if he is to ‘stay’ alive (he’s turning back into stone). But he is a master French chef and would be my new best friend if he’d just come live with me. I love his charm and name (Dorian Robert Houdin). 2) Handsome detective Max Liu, who is investigating a body that presented itself on her doorstep (thus preventing her house repairs). I hope the continuing series will develop their friendship/relationship. (The only two people in Portland who don’t like coffee?!) And 3) the three adolescents (Brixton, Veronica and Ethan) who provide quite some comic relief while being relevant and real. I found them very predictable (except for the green smoothies!) but became so attached to Dorian I sped read through the book. I love that Dorian’s father Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin was a French stage magician and clockmaker and the father of modern magic (a master showman and illusionist, 1805-1871).
Pandian is a breast cancer survivor who has learned carpe diem, and eating good food. It’s easy to recommend The Accidental Alchemist just for the food- yes, I read the mouth watering descriptions and ever the skeptic (teenagers drinking green goo?? And loving it??!) that I tried several and definitely enjoyed them (I prefer chocolate colour, so used the cocoa instead; adult version?). Visit the website too.
Suspend disbelief, enjoy an imaginative little mysterious gem as a distraction on a chilly afternoon.

Read on
If you like Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie or John Dickson Carr
3.5 stars
Read as an ARC ebook from Netgalley

“Did I mention that when I was born in Massachusetts, it was 1676?”
“The gray creature looked similar to the famous “thinker” gargoyle with short horns and folded wings. The main difference was that this gargoyle held an old leather-bound book in his arms.”
“I have control of myself now, I simply do not understand why anyone would leave France?!”
“I do not think things make much sense when one has left France.”
“Life is too short to eat inedible food because it is healthy.”
“A false answer is often easier than a complicated truth.”
“One of the very few positive things about living so long was getting to read so many books.”