Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
This book is so lushly written, it was easy to get lost in what was actually happening. It’s not so historical that you dwell on events, but just enough to feel transported to this somewhat alternate history, one full of magic mixed with science.
I will say, it took me a little time to warm up to Thea, mostly because I couldn’t quite understand the true depths her anger came from. But once that much is revealed, it made her a whole lot more sympathetic. And I do love a good platonic friendship!
Overall, the story is new, without really relying on old tropes (nothing wrong with tropes!). I feel like we always needed to see what lengths a woman would go to for the Philosopher’s Stone.
A dark, rich read, I give A Golden Fury 4 out of 5 crucibles. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing a copy in exchange for review.