Accidental Alchemist

 The Accidental AlchemistThe Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many authors could bring a stone gargoyle to life and make the reader care for him as much as they would care for a human? Gigi Pandian has done this in the first of a series of mysteries that will feature Dorian Robert-Houdin as a French gargoyle who needs the help of herbalist Zoe Faust to survive. A murder at her newly-acquired wreck of a house and the theft of Dorian's book of alchemy cast Zoe back into long-forgotten alchemical mysteries (as well as into the path of a detective whose knowledge of teas and such are both intriguing and puzzling), along with a teenaged who seems determinded to learn alchemy - and gourmet cooking from the talented Dorian.

A few instances of too-much-information that distract rather than enlighten took a star away from my rating, but I do recommend this book as a promising romp.

Recipes and ideas for teas dot the narrative.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is an honest review.

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That summer

That SummerThat Summer by Lauren Willig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's rare when a novelist can present two timelines that are both fully-realized. Lauren Willig accomplishes this - and more - in her stories about a Pre-Raphaelite painter and his love, and an antiques dealer and his love. I was so enthralled by the Pre-Raphaelite painter's story that I wished Gavin were as real as Rosetti.

Gavin's Imogen, an unhappily-married woman, was in a situation much like that of Dorothea in Middlemarch: married to an intellectual whose work she had longed to share. In the present, both Julia and Nicholas have issues to work through while investigating obscure Pre-Raphaelite paintings found in the house she has inherited.

The stories mesh and veer, as stories do, in a novel that is totally satisfying and engrossing, despite the centuries or geography that divide the reader from them.  Highly, highly recommended!

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