Title: The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Sci-fi, Steampunk
Author: Elise Kova
Read by: Tim Campbell and Erin Moon
Published by: Tantor Audio
Goodreads rating: 4.14 (as of writing)
The details are such because I only have the audiobook. So I will also be commenting the readers’ performance 😀
Taken from Goodreads:
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
I was immediately interested in this book when I first saw it on my recommendations in Goodreads. The cover looked so cool and when I found out it was a mix of steampunk and fantasy, my interest was perked even more.
And I wasn’t disappointed. This book delivered a brilliant, rich and unique setting, melding sci-fi and fantasy in a seamless and natural way. The world-building done by the author was complex despite it being the first book in the series and the author laid the information in such a way that didn’t feel so much like an information dump. Rather, she laid it out and integrated it into the story, letting the readers slowly get the hang of the world without being overwhelmed.
However, because of the even pace of the information dissemination, the first few chapters might come off a bit confusing and daunting for some readers. Especially since the book started with the main protagonist, Arianna, in the middle of completing a mission. And she is such a logical and analytical character who likes to think in numbers and probabilities.
Numbers remained consistent. Numbers and facts attempted to bring order from a chaotic world, to make sense of the impossible. They were the foundation for colossal structures and the tiniest of clockwork machines alike. Ari loved numbers, and not just because they saved her life by keeping her alert in her surroundings.
Of course, I thought that was really bad-ass but a bit mind-numbing (I was never good in Math) XD
Fortunately, I didn’t have much problems muddling through the first few chapters because I’m just listening to someone else reading it for me XD The readers, Tim Campbell and Erin Moon, did such a very fine job bringing the characters to life, giving them a distinct voice, especially when you consider the fact that this book is divided into four point-of-views: Arianna the bisexual protagonist, Cvareh the uptight love interest XD, Florence the adorable sidekick and Leona the murderous and overly-attached girlfriend (not Cvareh’s thankfully lol).
The book introduced two worlds. Loom, which is home to Fenthri and Chimeras, and Nova, which is home to dragons. Fenthri are characterized by white, black and gray coloring; Dragons are characterized by bright and ostentatious coloring; Chimeras are Fenthri who are physically altered by the Alchemists of Loom by splicing them with dragon blood or organ. Arianna is actually a chimera.
Despite the already complex world-building, the author didn’t neglect her characters. They were also done well, each with their own quirks and distinct personalities. I especially loved Florence, the sweet cinnamon roll who was Arianna’s assistant and ward. I think she was the one who was developed the most, but I guess that’s because she was the youngest. Cvareh and Arianna had their own brand of character development too, slowly understanding and trusting each other, given that Arianna hated dragons and initially wanted to kill him to sell his organs XD
I was a bit surprised that the book was on the gory side, though in hindsight I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, Arianna did already talk about selling dragon organs XD Dragons seem to have the bad habit of ripping out the hearts of other dragons and then eating them to get their magic. Sounds cannibalistic? XD
I was also a bit leery about the relationship between Cvareh and Arianna especially as it escalated into romantic one. It felt a bit insta-love-ish XD But I can’t deny that sometimes it made me giddy XD I thought it was funny how Cvareh kept referring to Arianna as “ugly” and “flat-teeth” at first and then gradually turned to “beautiful” later on ❤
I liked Cvareh, he seemed like a precious guy and he’s very fashion conscious which is another thing I found really funny and endearing. But his physical design makes me flinch. I mean…blue skin and orange hair…while they are complementary colors…they are also bright and contrasting XD Arianna, on the other hand, has great character design! Obviously, she was the one in the cover: white hair, gray skin and magenta eyes. She had such a cool moniker too: The White Wraith.
I would definitely make a fanart of her ❤
What I didn’t like about this book is the dragons. Well, I wasn’t really too bothered but still, when I saw Dragons in the overview, I thought of the big reptilian ones that loves to hoard treasures XD I guess I was just a tiny bit disappointed ^^; But the author did a fine job re-imagining her own original races.
The pacing of this book is great! Action packed from the get go but might be a bit confusing at first. It also had lovable characters in the form of Cvareh and Florence. Arianna is just too bad-ass to be called loveable XD The world-building is magnificent and complex despite it being a first book. There is a distinct difference between the culture of the Dragons and the Fenthri. The plot itself is alright too. Though I thought it was a bit bland and anti-climatic towards the end.
The readers performed really well. They made this book even better by giving distinct voices to the characters. It was also easy for me to understand them too, despite not being a native English speaker ^^
I would definitely be waiting for the next book with bated breath 😀 This book just satisfies my steampunk and fantasy aesthetics. ❤
Recommended to: People who loves steampunk AND fantasy
Favorite character: Florence
Favorite quote: “Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you—whichever came first.”