|Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated with you and doing it tunil you died or it killed you – which ever came first”
Im going to try to give you my take on the summary but I know I’m not going to do it justice.
Essentially, there are two lands, Nova and Loom. The people of Nova are called dragons, they are brightly colored from their skin to their clothes and they have magic. The magic residies in different parts of their bodies depending on their ability. Once, a long time ago, a dragon fell from the sky and the people of Loom, below Nova, harvested his organs and his magic and combined it with their technology to create something new. They also transplanted the organs into people of Loom to create Chimera, a blend of human and dragon that can use magic enhanced technology. Over time a lot of animosity grew between the people of Loom and the dragons of Nova. Arianna, is our MC and she is one of the chimera. One day history repeats itself and a dragon falls from the sky and Arianna agrees to help him in return for a boon. The dragon, Cvareh, needs to get to the Alchemists Guild and the story follows them as they make their way across Loom, avoiding the dragon kings riders who want to kill them, that is if Arianna and Cvareh don’t kill one another first.
Ok that was akward, but in all seriousnes, THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!! I’m going to break down this review into parts and use a lot of quotes because they capture my feels better than I am capable of.
The Characters And Their Relationships:
Arianna, the MC, was such an onion. There were just layers upon layers to her that were slowly exposed and I know there are more to come. I loved each glimpse Kova gave us into this characters strengths and weaknesses. Early on there are some clues from the author that Arianna isn’t quite what she seems and that there are some or many, secrets she is keeping. Strong, stubborn, smart, and resourceful, she is the first MC I’ve felt I really related to in a long time.
Cvareh (Suh-var-ay), I can never say his name right and must have checked the glossary (thank you for that) at least ten times. A fascinating dragon, with blue skin and a passion for fashion. I love this line from Arianna after meeting Cvareh
“He was finally the monster she had been expecting”
In reality, I found him to be anything but what I expected from a dragon. Smart, sensible and sweet, Cvareh really grew on me, like a little blue fungus. While some of Ariannas secrets are eventually revealed, the details of Cvareh’s past are not and I look forward to getting to know him better in book two.
There is a ship in this book and I ship it, so so much. I like when the relationship starts out a little rocky but they are thrown into situations where they have to rely on one another and begin to see more depth to one another than their initial impression. I love the way Kova built up this slow burn between the two but it was never the main focus of the story, it just happened naturally along the way.
“The powder kegs around them stacked taller, but for now remained dry and cool”
A lot of the banter between these two had me smiling and laughing, they were both sassy and strong-willed and I loved every second of it!
I also liked the relationship between Florence and Arianna, although it wasn’t the friendship I was expecting. It was more of a parent-child or I guess in this case teacher-student relationship, regardless I enjoyed it.
“It wasn’t every day you had the opportunity to meet a gear that fit so well against your own”
I just loved this comparison. I think Florence was definitely an essential part of the story because she kept Arianna a little grounded and also acted as the peacekeeper between Arianna and Cvareh. I think without Florene that those two would have gone their separate ways or killed one another. As the ‘glue’ of the group she also had the trait of seeing things around her that others could not such as the romantic tension.
The Plot, The World Building And All The Rest
The Alchemists of Loom is fresh and unlike anything I’ve read or even heard of before. Kova infused this book with steampunk and I wasn’t sure about that, because I haven’t read anything like that before, but it was amazing! I’m a welder by trade so it was neat to read about a female MC that was so handy and creative.
When I read the last line and closed the book I just sat back with it in my arms and marveled. I didn’t even know how much I had needed to read a book like this. Don’t get me wrong I have read some great fantasy lately but this – this is now one of my all time favorites with Alanna, Six of Crows and Mistborn. It had that perfect balance of adventure, romance, action, tension, mystery and of course, sass. Everything just fit together perfectly and the result was incredible and memorable, I finished it recently and already I can’t wait to re-read it.
Elise Kova must write with a wand rather than a pen. Her choice of words and placement of details made the world come alive without that dreaded info dump. The description and the attention to detail created such vivid imagery, it was gorgeous.
“the buildings crumbling together to form a skyline of stone sentries no longer needed at their posts.”
“The dragon collapsed against the wall as every clock crashed back into motion around them”
Although at the start I admit I wasn’t instantly hooked, I want to tell you guys something I discovered last year. Lately I’ve noticed that all the really good fantasy books I’ve read started as a little tough to get into. This doesn’t always apply, but now when I find it tough to get into a new world I get a little excited because I know the potential is there! I think the reason this happens is because the world is so different from our own, it takes me time to acclimatize but if the author knows her world well, and you can tell Kova does, then once you are in you never want to leave. That was definitely the case here; I felt like I was a part of Loom while I was reading and I was sad to leave it behind when I finished the final page. Can someone just show me the way to the Rivets Guild, please? Creating a world that has so much depth it feels tangible is one of the things I admire most about fantasy writers. Not all of them accomplish that, I think most of them don’t, but Elise Kova is definitely one of the ones that does, and it’s why The Alchemists of Loom stood out as one of my best books of 2016 and best fantsays I’ve ever read.
I found throughout the story that the pacing was accurate, there were times when the characters were laying low and planning so things slowed down a little. Every other moment was action-packed and I flew through this book. The characters are on the run pretty much the whole time and I really loved the on-the-edge of my seat feeling, never quite sure what was going to happen next. The White Wraith was constantly coming up with split second plans to get them out of their latest bind. Obviously, from what I’ve described you can guess that I didn’t feel this book wasn’t predictable at all which some of you might know is one of my biggest dislikes. The author hinted at things, and I made my own guesses but I wasn’t even close!
The magic system was fantastic, different magics residing in different parts of the body is a really fascinating idea and I almost wish we had more details about the different magics dragons possess. Perhaps this will be fulfilled in the second book. I love the way the people of Loom combined magic and technology to create something entirely new. Kova struck gold when she brought fantasy and steam punk together. (And once you’ve read the book you’ll realize I sort of made a pun there) The characters could also imbibe from one another, drawing strength and power from the others blood. This was kind of creepy and kind of sexy at the same time, at least between the ship in this book. Like I said, I really hope we get to explore more of the working between magic, dragons, chimera and machinery in book two because I found it fascinating.
And I loved that last line!! Can someone please get me Dragons of Nova ASAP!
** If you have reached the end of this review, thank you for reading! I know you might be wondering where my dislikes are? Well I don’t really have any, that’s how much I loved this book. I think if I had to point out anything it would be that the beginning was a little tough for me to sink into but this isn’t a book that you have to get half way through to be pulled in. Just give it a couple of chapters, trust me, you’re welcome. And Cvareh’s name was hard to pronounce, but really those are nothing when compared to all the great things about this book so I didn’t deduct any stars for those points.
A big thank you to Keymaster Press for sending me a copy of The Alchemists of Loom for this review!