Bickle, Laura. 2016. Dark Alchemy. New York: Harper Voyager Books.
ISBN 978-0062404923. $6.99 USD.
I am a big fan of urban fantasy, but not so much westerns, so I was a little ambivalent about reading Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle, which would be classified more as contemporary fantasy than urban. It ended up being so good that I immediately ordered the second book in the series, Mercury Retrograde, as Dark Alchemy ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Lauded as a cross between “Breaking Bad” and Stephen King’s Gunslinger (haven’t watched the former or read the latter), Dark Alchemy seems to fall into a genre all its own, with hints of native American mythology and medieval alchemy running through the book.
Petra Dee, a geologist, travels to Temperance, Wyoming, to try to find information about her father who has been missing for many years. She is escaping memories of a deadly oil rig explosion which cost her a job and the life of her lover. What she finds in Temperance is a run-down trailer, a strange magical artifact, a drunken native American seer, a coyote familiar, two antique guns and a whole lot of trouble brewing between the local drug dealer/alchemist and a brutal rancher with a strange control over what she comes to find out are called The Hanged Men. Petra has a lot of courage and is headstrong in ways that sometimes seem foolish, but her desire to find answers to her father’s disappearance drives her to dive head-first into danger without thinking of the consequences. The ending, as I said, is somewhat of a cliff-hanger, and pretty dark at that. However, I was so excited to see that there is a sequel, and am looking forward learning more about Petra’s adventures with The Hanged Men and her coyote sidekick, Sig.