E for Elle in A Conspiracy of Alchemists, by Liesl Schwarz (fiction) – steampunk, magic, love, danger

book cover of A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz published by Del Rey BooksCorrect steam pressure in airship boiler? Check.
Passenger and cargo aboard? Check.
Clearance from Paris station to cast off? No? No?! Go, go, go, go!!

Being raised as a rational woman by her scientist father, airship captain Elle is most skeptical of Warlock Marsh’s claim that she will soon transform into Pythia as she becomes the world’s next Oracle, just as her runaway mother was…before her untimely death.

A wild chase after an artifact which must not fall into the hands of evil Alchemists takes Elle and Marsh from Oxford to Istanbul via Venice in this first book of The Chronicles of Light and Dark.

Can anyone outrun their destiny?

Book info: A Conspiracy of Alchemists (Book One of The Chronicles of Light and Dark) / Liesel Schwarz. Del Rey, 2013. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation:  A routine airship charter flight from Paris to London turns into a quest to close the gateway between evil Dark and the rational scientific world of Light for a young lady pilot in 1903, who little realizes that she is the gate-key that both sides will do anything to possess.

When a Warlock steals the sealed wooden box just given to her, Eleanor thinks she should have questioned her docking agent Patrice more closely before taking this charter. As gunfire starts at the Paris airfield, the young pilot knows that this is not a routine flight for her steam air-freighter at all, and when she arrives home in Oxford to find that her inventor father has kidnapped, she realizes that all these events are connected somehow.

Her charter passenger Mr. Marsh is really Viscount Greychester, an eminent Warlock on the Council which harnesses the Dark for productive purposes in this world. All signs point to Dr. Chance being abducted by the Alchemists, whose service to the undead Nightwalkers over centuries has made them hungry to unleash the Dark into this world for their own nefarious purposes.

Off go Elle and Marsh in the professor’s experimental gyrocopter, racing to reach the Council in Venice before the Alchemists can get there by train. No, Elle will not discuss her mother, who abandoned the family and was killed. No, Elle couldn’t have inherited her spiritual gifts, can’t possibly be an oracle, the Oracle, the key that would allow access to the full powers of Dark…

Unsatisfactory answers in Venice, reports that the Alchemists’ train is en route to Istanbul, visions appearing in Elle’s dreams… time is growing short, and the box stolen from Elle in Paris holds a magical substance that could allow the Alchemists to start pulling Dark power without the Nightwalkers’ assistance – if Dr. Chance is forced to create the triggering device!

Can they trust former allies in a strange land?
Is Elle truly on the verge of becoming the Oracle foretold?
Is Marsh really walking into her dreams of love?

There’s danger at every turn as Elle and Marsh must battle air pirates, rescue Dr. Chance, and race against time to save the world from Darkness eternal in this steampunk-paranormal start to The Chronicles of Light and Dark. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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