Today, I bring you A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe! A YA novel about alchemy set between just about pre-revolutionary France and England, featuring heroine Thea Hope. Give me smart girls, talk of the Philosopher’s Stone and a romp through Europe and I can’t resist picking up the book. What can I say, I’m a simple girl!
Funnily enough I forgot to download my eARC while I was handing in my dissertation, which I didn’t realise until a couple of days ago. Silly me – of course that meant it was already archived… So I ran to get myself the audio book and listen to that as much as I could to finish in time!
Many thanks to Megan Harrington and Wednesday Books for the invitation to the blog tour!
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
RELEASE DATE: 13/10/2020
SUMMARY: 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. (from Wednesday Books)
OPINIONS: So I absolutely love the concept behind A Golden Fury. And there are many things that work brilliantly – tense family dynamics, secrecy, and Thea is captured poignantly as a teenager towards the end of puberty, dangerously close to hubris as many adolescents are, especially ones that are convinced of their own brightness and capability. However, as a whole, A Golden Fury did not come together a hundred percent for me and spent too much time dropping into what I would consider standard YA tendencies to truly stand out in the market.
I’m not sure whether I actually like Thea or not, but she certainly is a good character. She undergoes quite a journey over the course of the story and grows up a lot. Much of her behaviour can be attributed to being a teenager, one who thinks she is now an adult but has never had to fend for herself before and thus has not realised that she is very much still a child in the ways that matter. It was great to read about her struggles and see this reflected in the decisions she has to make over the course of the novel.
However, I felt like many of the secondary characters were not as fleshed out and mainly existed to drive the story forward rather than as characters in their own right. Similarly, I felt that the system of alchemy could have been given more space, especially the concept of different schools/cultures of knowledge that was hinted at but not explored. I felt like the actual alchemy part of A Golden Fury was too easy for how big of a symbolism the Philosopher’s Stone has.
I did enjoy A Golden Fury, but I don’t think it will join my shelf of favourites any time soon. It is nevertheless an entertaining read, interesting for fans of books such as Fawkes or The Witch Hunter. Find A Golden Fury on Goodreads here, or order a copy from Book Depository here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and
deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.