Synopsis (From GoodReads):
When Zoe Faust--herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon--begins unpacking her bags, she can't help but notice she's picked up a stow away: a living, breathing, three-and-half-foot gargoyle. Dorian Robert-Houdin is no simple automaton, nor is he a homunculus; in fact, he needs Zoe's help to decipher a centuries-old text that explains exactly what he is. Zoe, who's trying to put her alchemical life behind her, isn't so sure she can help. But after a murder victim is discovered on her front porch, Zoe realized she's tangled up in ancient intrigue that can't be ignored.
I first became aware of author Gigi Pandian when I saw the cover for her book, The Elixir Of Life, on NetGalley. The description look intriguing, so I asked to be approved to review the book. I had no idea it was the third book in a series. But the writing and story were such that it didn't really matter. I enjoyed the book and hurried to my library to find the first two books. The Accidental Alchemist is the first book in the series, and I loved it.
What I Liked:Characters:
As a person who was over 300 years old, Zoe had a lot of perspective when she thought on how to live her life. I loved how she was so deliberate with her health and eating. It was a recipe for how anyone could be healthy. I liked that the book showed a vegan lifestyle, but was not preachy about it.
Zoe also had trouble finding a way to connect with people. She was weary of becoming close to others as she has lost so many loved ones over the years. I really rooted for her to make friends and have a fulfilling life.
Dorian is a gargoyle who has come to life. He is also a gourmand. He does find ways to connect with people (blind people can't judge him for being made of stone), and enjoy life through creating beautiful meals for others. I felt connected to Dorian, as I love to cook for the same reason. Seeing others look forward to and enjoy my cooking gives me such satisfaction. Dorian is there to show Zoe how to live.
Brixton was a latch-key kid that Zoe comes to care about over the course of the story. It is questionable if he can really be trusted with Zoe and Dorian's secrets, but that's what is fun about this character. He also changes and matures in the book, something I adored.
I have never been to Portland, but this book makes me want to visit there as soon as possible (actually, I have a relative who just moved there, so I think I really may go there soon)! I liked that Zoe's neighborhood was like a small town in the midst of a large city. The minor characters and shops added to the charm of the book. This is a neighborhood where I would envision going shopping and hanging out at all the cool cafes.
I have not tried the recipes yet, but I have looked them over and they seem easy to make, healthy, and delicious. If you Google Gigi Pandian, you can find the recipes online. These added to the fun of the book. I just wish they would have included more recipes. Every time Dorian cooked, I was drooling over the descriptions.
What I Didn't Like:The Mystery:
It may seem strange that I wouldn't like this, being that the mystery to be solved is supposed to be the main point of this kind of novel. But, while I found the actual mystery to have little to do with Zoe or Dorian, I felt it was a minor problem with the book.
There could have been ways to tie them in, but it was not to be. So why have it happen at all? Anyone could have solved this crime. There was actually plenty of possible mysteries that could have involved the main characters: a person from Zoe's past, more about the book that Dorian needs to cure him, etc. I think there are future adventures where the main characters really matter to the story. But in this particular book, character development seemed to be the first priority.
Release Date: January 8th, 2015
Source: Public Library
Format: Paperback Book
Recommendation: This is a worthy start to this series. Read it and be inspired to eat and live well!