"The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin" An Accidental Alchemist Mystery By Gigi Pandian: Review/Giveaway

Review by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of ANY of the books in the Accidental Alchemist mystery series. Winner can choose. Also, a link to purchase the latest book.

Zoe Faust is feeling melancholic as the summer solstice arrives in Portland, Oregon. An alchemist with the secret of unaging life, 300-something years old Zoe has been forced to live a transient life, constantly moving from one place to another before questions over her eternal youth arise. For the first time she has set down roots with a close group of friends and even operates a successful online antique store, so the thought of having to leave them is heartrending. She pushes that out of her mind when a mysterious young woman wanders into Zoe’s Elixir store, setting off all of Zoe’s internal alarms. She’s not the only one upset by the woman’s appearance. Zoe’s friend Heather immediately recognizes her as her own best friend murdered sixteen years ago. While no one was arrested for the death of high schooler Ridley Price, her family and the police all suspected that the culprit was her jilted ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Gallo. That he just crashed his car after seeing the spectral presence would seem to cement his guilty conscience.

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Image Source Gargoyle Girl Productions
While Heather immediately assumes that she is being haunted by Ridley’s ghost, Zoe circles in on the possibility that Ridley might be another alchemist living life as an eternal teenager. It’s a belief shared by Zoe’s housemate Dorian Robert-Houdin, a 150-year old gargoyle and talented chef. When not baking amazing pastries for the Blue Sky Teas teashop, Dorian has enthusiastically embraced his “Scooby” tendencies, although he prefers the more nuanced detective skills of Hercule Poirot,  and gathered together his detecting team of local teens. Although the adults trust the far too-sensible Veronica Chen-Mendoza to reign in Heather’s son’s impulsive tendencies, for once it is Veronica who seems to be leading a rebellion and instigating a ghost-trap of her own. Eventually both of Zoe’s and Dorian’s efforts collide in a game-makers hidden room, where all of the suspects from sixteen years ago have been forged into a Clue-like game with the hopes of crowdsourcing an answer.

This sixth of the compelling Accidental Alchemist mystery series continues to build on its mythology while also exploring an elaborate mystery game setting. Although chapters alternate between Zoe’s and Dorian’s viewpoints, they are at their best when their investigations combine and clues and conclusions meshed together. Zoe’s boyfriend Max Liu has left law enforcement to embrace his heritage as a budding alchemist himself, finding the same talent for producing healing teas as Zoe has with plants and gardens. 

It is her affinity for the earth and plants that help her to solve the puzzle of the riddle-loving girl nicknamed “Riddle,” along with considerable help from a disobedient teen or two. Zoe’s calming Zen attitude is contrasted by the often overly enthusiastic Dorian, but both have been bonded by long lifetimes hidden in the shadows and experiencing continual loss. For the first time they have formed a close circle of friends who are in on most of their secrets, but the threats of wider exposure always lends a shadow of sadness and fear. Nevertheless, this continues to be a very funny and heartwarming mystery of puzzles, riddles, and friendship.

To enter to win an an ebook copy of The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin or any other book in the series (winner's choice), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "riddle,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 24, 2022. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. Be sure to state which book you want, you can find all the titles here. 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 went up last week.

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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. Sounds interesting. Don't know if I'd
    want to be around for 300plus years
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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