"The Alchemist of Fire and Fortune" By Gigi Pandian: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Cynthia Chow 

Details at the end of this post on how to win a set of Accidental Alchemist recipe cards, along with a link to purchase the new book.  

After living for nearly 400 years, Zoe Faust is heartened to finally have her mentors Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel back in her life. Their having spent years trapped in a painting is only one of the unusual occurrences to have happened to the 700-year-old alchemists, and just as they’re settling into this new world someone threatens their secrets. Perenelle received a note demanding gold in exchange for silence, and Zoe worries that this blackmail is only the beginning. For while the Flamels have indeed learned the skills that allow them to transform material into gold, it comes at a physical and mental cost. Zoe hopes that the blurry video is an empty threat that no one would actually believe, and she fears that giving in to the blackmailers would only encourage more.

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Less pleased with this wait-and-see option is Zoe’s roommate-chef-gargoyle Dorian, who considers himself a follower of Hercule Poirot and his “little gray cells” powerful tools for investigations. After accidentally revealing himself to young teen Brixton and then his friends Ethan and Veronica, Dorian enlists them as his assistants/minions as they track down their own clues to what they believe to be a hidden pirate’s treasure. Dorian is feeling territorial and jealous over the reappearance of the Flamels into Zoe’s life, so he is determined to prove that he is the far more worthy companion. His exploits are hilariously journaled in typewriter-printed entries written from his viewpoint, and these adventures are as entertaining and compelling as Zoe’s. That their missions should eventually combine should surprise no one, but the manner and motivations of the villain definitely will.

The author continues to find new ways to develop and explore these extraordinarily unique characters, and this fifth in the series delivers even more emotional and heartwarming moments. Having his own chapters allows Dorian to become more than just a comic-relief side character, and readers will understand just why Zoe has become so attached to her demanding, fussy, occasionally self-centered living statue. Dorian has always been her loyal friend and companion, which is only highlighting the absence of Zoe’s boyfriend Detective Max Liu. His reaction to discovering the true age of his (much) older girlfriend didn’t go over as well as Zoe had hoped, and his messages since leaving to attend his grandfather’s funeral in China have been sporadic at best. So while Dorian’s Scooby gang follow their own trail of clues and commit a number of minor criminal offenses, Zoe focuses on protecting the family she has finally reunited with. Zoe may have devoted herself to the natural arts of healing through plants and herbs, but someone else is far greedier and impatient with their desires. 

This series is outstanding at making the fantastical seem practical and real, grounding the emotions and making Zoe’s life somehow relatable. Dorian’s healthy vegan recipes may frustrate the winged French-trained chef, but they are an added treat for readers who will enjoy this mix of fantasy and mystery. The books by this author are always on my lists of best books of the year, and 2021 will be no different. Gigi Pandian is an alchemist who can easily transform the written word into joyful feelings and entertaining experiences.  

To enter to win a set of Accidental Alchemist recipe cards, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "recipe,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 11, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS THERE MAY BE A DELAY IN SHIPPING THE WINNING BOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).
 Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. this would be a total departure from
    what I usually read. Love mysteries
    but never had one so far in the past.
    Sounds interesting. thanks

  2. Sounds like a really interesting series. Will have to check it out.


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