Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Book Summery:Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets - secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. This doesn't sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart - literally. -goodreads.com

Book Review:
Well, this certainly was a change of pace for me. Originally, I picked this one up for Calico Reaction's book club (though I am late reading it, as it was April's pick). It took me a while to get through this one. I would read a bit and then set down the book and think about what I just read. There are many, many components to this book. The main focus, I believe, is the relationship between Mattie and her creator, Loharri. Mattie wants nothing but to live happily and free of Loharri's hold on her. I am not quite sure why Loharri is so enraptured by Mattie. He is also possessive and jealous of her as well. He does well to remind her of these feelings by keeping her key, the very thing that keeps her alive, out of her reach, for he holds the only copy.

Another major component is the political struggle between the mechanics, the alchemists, and the gargoyles. This is most interesting becuase Loharri is a mechanic, where as Mattie, his creation, is an alchemist. I truly enjoyed watching the struggle of power from one major party to another. Reading the occasional excerpt from the gargoyles was most refreshing. Their third party voice helped to breakup the story, as well as give some external focus to the storyline. Also, it helped to bring the story full circle, as the book begins and ends with Mattie helping the gargoyles to break free of their stone connection.

What was most interesting for me was that Mattie was the most relate-able character in this story, yet she is a machine. Mattie is honest, kind, compassionate, and smart. Though she was the narrator, her presence is often overlooked in the story. A concept that I found fascinating. I really enjoyed the interactions of Mattie with the various characters in this novel. It helped to define her, as well get a sense of the world that Sedia had created.

Though I gave this book a 3/5 rating, it would more likely be 3.5/5. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. However, I often was left wondering where the plot was going, even as I got to end the book. I am still not sure what the point of separating the gargoyles from stone is. Also I was highly disappointed by some of the characters. I felt that Mattie was more often used as means to an end. Though I did enjoy this book, it's doubtful that I would re-read it.

Favorite Quote:
"She hated admitting to herself, but she stayed close to him because of the influence she had-she had the power to make him less concerned and more at ease, to make him smile even though it pained his broken face. She wondered at herself, at weather she would ever be able to forgive him for being her creator, for having such absolute control over her internal workings. For his love." (p. 37)

Cover Art Commentary:
I really like this cover, as well as the hardcover version. Pictured to the right. Both beautiful in their own way.

Other reviews can be found at:
Calico Reaction -review
The Little Reader -reviewTemporary Worlds -review
Jawas read, too! -review

Overall Rating:


  1. Hrmmm....the cover....disturbing.

  2. It definitely doesn't bode well for the main character, now does it! :P

  3. Awesome review. Both covers are creepy cool :)

  4. I love the creepy cool covers.

    I liked this book but also found it left me thinking a lot. While interesting and engaging at parts, some other parts were not as engaging for me.

  5. @Juju
    Thanks love! :)

    It really does stick with you. I still keeping thinking back to certain parts of the story. I agree, some parts were more engaging than others. :)

  6. Ah I was equally torn on this one. A lot to enjoy, but it felt like some things were missing at times.

    Oh and the little key image is very appropriate :)

  7. @Nancy
    Agreed! I definitely was on the fence as well! :)