Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams

From the Publisher:
Seraphina's first love made her immortal...her second might get her killed...
After spending six hundred years on earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world's riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to swap bodies with other humans, jumping from one vessel to the next, taking the human's life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she's done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she's inhabiting--and falls for the human boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she's his again, and every moment she stays, she's putting herself and the people she's grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that's eluded her for centuries: true love?

My Thoughts:
The Alchemy of Forever begins in 1349.  Young Serphina Ames is attending a party with her parents.  Going outside for some fresh air, she runs into Cyrus, the apothecary's son.  While talking to Cyrus, the pair are accosted by robbers.  Cyrus manages to kill them, but not before Sera is fatally stabbed.  Before she actually dies, Cyrus saves her by giving her an alchemical mixture that gives her immortality - but in another person's body.

Fast forward to present day San Francisco.

Seraphina has been living for 600 yeas as an incarnate, which means she retains her own soul, but must replace the body she lives in every 10 years. Unfortunately, her new body means the death of someone else.  But now she has decided it is time to die herself.  Sera, desperately in need of a new body, is tired of living under Cyrus's possessive control, despite her affection for her best friend Charlotte, also an incarnate. So, she takes the alchemy book Cyrus has kept over the ages and runs away.

But just as Sera is ready to carry out her suicide, she hears a car accident.  She pulled out a fatally injured, very pretty teenage girl and tries to give her CPR, but the girl is dying and the pull of a new body is too great for Sera and before she knows it, she has become the body of 16 year old Kailey Morgan.

Away from the familiar incarnates that are part of Cyrus's circle, Sera slowly begins to learn about Kailey, her family, her friends, and her enemies.  A few people notice changes in her, but don't really question them too much.  And Sera as Kailey feels she is somewhat safe from Cyrus's grasp and still plans to carry out her suicide, for herself and for Kailey's parents who don't know their real daughter is dead.

I didn't think I would really like The Alchemy of Forever, but I found it was an easy, fast and entertaining book and it was a surprisingly well-written, well-plotted book.  I did have trouble with the concept that an incarnate must take another's life in order to sustain themself, even though it was justified by only using the bodies of people about to die anyway.  Somehow, that part still didn't work for me, especially since once the exchange of souls happened, the "donor" body disintegrated into dust.

Throughout the novel, we only experience Sera in her original body and Kailey's, but personality-wise, she remains the same.  And that is what her friends question.  First, Kailey forbade her friends to date her brother, despite his good looks and nice personality.  And Noah - the boy interest in the story - had been forbidden by Kailey to be seen with her in school, but around the neighborhood it was OK.  And it was OK for him to drive Kailey and her brother to school everyday - weird, especially since Noah clearly has a major crush on Kailey.  But Sera likes him and suddenly all of Kailey's rules no longer matter.

All this plays out partially because Sera believes she is really safe from Cyrus.  Or is she? Is Cyrus so clever that he can trace her through the events that led her to Kailey's life?

The Alchemy of Forever has a few loose ends that bothered me.  What happened to the girl named Taryn who Sera convinced not to commit suicide on the same night she had planned it herself?  And was Taryn the person Sera saw when she exchanged bodies with Kailey?  What happened to Cyrus's alchemical book?

I know this is a the first book in a planned series and these questions might be answered in the future, but it left too much hanging, and yet, the end of the story was really very predictable (no, I am giving away nothing here.)

If you like paranormal romance/adventure, you will surely like The Alchemy of Forever.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was obtained from the publisher.


  1. I like the idea of the story (immortality, but with lots of strings attached), but you're right, the mechanics of it seem a little weird. I do love me a good paranormal romance, though, so I'll have to check this out. Great review!

    I'm a new follower -- I found your blog via bookblogs. Mine is

  2. Thanks. I still think is a fun book to read if you are really into paranormal novels, but if a person iis only a casual reader of this genre, then this may not appeal to them very much.

  3. Hmm. This sounds like an interesting novel. I'll see if I can get hold of it. Thanks for the review. Though I DO have to be in a certain mood to read YA paranormal romance. I think it's a refreshing change from YA dystopian romance though. ;)


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