Pub date: April 1st, 2014
First of all I wanted to send a huge THANK YOU to Anne from Kaye Publicity for emailing me about this book, and sending me a copy for review.
I do not take many review copies nowadays as I am just too busy to read, sadly, but this one is just right up my alley as it is historical fiction and the premise sounded too good to pass up:
Florence Italy, 1574; Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.
This is Loupas's third historical fiction novel, and I will be checking out her others after reading this one. First of all, I just love all of the alchemist stuff throughout. I have always been fascinated with the topic and I learned quite a bit about the origins of alchemy and a little more about The Philosopher Stone, which was doubly cool because I am a true Potterhead through and through.
The story opens with Chiara Nerini, who at a tender age of teenage-hood, is desperate to feed her family. She tries to sell off her late father's treasured alchemical equipment to the soon-to-be Duke, and in the effort is taken by force into his household and recruited as his soror mystica, the female counterpart in his alchemical team of himself, Chiara and the handsome and rugged Englishman Ruan dell'Inghilterra, in his quest to create The Philosopher's Stone. Chiara is soon drawn into alchemy with the passion that her father had, and realizes that in creating The Philosopher's Stone she could heal herself once and for all of the searing headaches and strange voices she hears in her head. But this passion comes at a price. As she is drawn deeper and deeper into the Duke's court, she uncovers murder, and mysteries, and vengeance, even in her own heart. As she tries to stay one step ahead of the sadistic Duke, she is drawn closer to Ruan, who becomes her only trusted ally in the twisted Medici court.
This book will have you literally turning pages late into the night. There are not many books that I will shut the TV off for, but this one I shut everything off, and by the soft glow of my bedroom nightstand light I read and read until my eyes could no longer stay open. I love how this book was based on a little known family and based on real events of infidelity, murder and mystery . The back drop of alchemy was fascinating, and you could easily see how this would be the solidifying force between the three main characters: Chiara, the Duke and Ruan.
For more information on this book or any others written by Elizabeth Loupas, you can visit her website here.
And for an interesting article about the Medici's portrayed in the story click here.