The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 1
Fifteen-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman don’t believe in legends. What good would it do them anyway? Their parents are away the whole summer on one of their archeological digs, and right now all the twins care about is working hard at their new summer jobs to save money for their own car. By some stroke of luck, they find jobs in San Francisco across the street from each other --- Sophie at The Coffee Cup and Josh at The Small Book Shop. Books and coffee, an ideal combination if ever there was one.
On the surface, Nick Fleming and his lovely wife Perry seem like your typical bookstore owners. But then a strange group of men step out of a limousine at the curb, gray-faced golems lumber into the shop, the air smells like peppermint and rotten eggs, and explosive balls of energy get hurled through the air. Before Josh and Sophie even figure out what’s happening, Nick and his wife kidnap them for their own good and flee the scene worried for their lives.
It seems that Josh’s boss is not who he claims to be. Nick and Perry are really Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, and their secrets don’t stop there. Records show that Nicholas Flamel was widely regarded as the greatest Alchemyst of all time. His wife died first, and in 1418 he followed her to the grave, nearly 600 years ago. If all this is true, then why are their graves empty?
Somehow, the Alchemyst is still alive.
Rarely have I read a novel that accomplishes as much as THE ALCHEMYST. By the author’s own admission, the twins are the only invented characters; everyone else is grounded in history and mythology. The famous alchemyst Nicholas Flamel really married Perenelle. John Dee studied as his apprentice. The mysterious Book of Abraham was a real book made of bark. And to this day, Nick and Perry’s graves lie empty. How did they get so rich? What happened to their bodies? Could they still be alive?
A skillful weave of history and legend, the first installment of this story leaves few ancient myths unexplained --- The Greek legend Icarus, the Great London Fire, the Viking god Odin, vampires, the Black Plague of Europe, the Island of Atlantis, the Irish Potato Famine, martial arts, witches, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the secret of eternal life --- amazingly, though, none of them feels out of place. They help transform this fast-paced rollercoaster of magic, mystery and myth into a new legend that explains the stories of the past and holds the secret to all the ones to come.
Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens on May 22, 2007