A young girl’s life changes dramatically when she becomes the apprentice to one of the most famed alchemists of her time.
Jenny Swift, only 14 years old, is taken from her parents and her sheltered upbringing in lush Queerwood to become apprentice to the famed alchemist Richard Antrobus. But when her newfound master is attacked as they embark upon their journey into nearby Vale, Jenny soon realizes that this isn’t just another apprenticeship. Upon her arrival in Vale, the young apprentice is thrust into a world unlike any she’s ever known—a mysterious stranger gives her an antique brass astrolabe, and she is attacked by a vicious stranger and subsequently saved by Rayker, who works for Duke Emeric. She then meets her roommate, the flighty, well-off, yet well-meaning Emily. Jenny, who is already an accomplished healer, soon learns the basics of alchemy in Antrobus’ study nestled deep within the castle. Her first real test comes when she must defend herself against violent outlaws who will stop at nothing to gain the secrets hidden deep within Antrobus’ study. When her master is kidnapped, it is up to Jenny to save him and protect the secrets he’s worked his entire life to collect. What results is a story of deceit, murder and the quest to decipher the secrets of an ancient manuscript that contains the deepest secrets of alchemy. Skinner handles the characters and ensuing plot twists with gusto, yet at times there are so many characters that the reader has to stop for a moment to place them. As the first installment in Skinner’s Earth, Air, Fire and Water series, the book follows suit with the exploding popularity of the young-adult science fiction and fantasy genre, yet the author approaches the genre in an original way, focusing on the principles of early science and historically accurate—yet fictional—settings, characters and plots.
A worthy read, perfect for the young adult, fantasy loving set; true devotees will anxiously await the next installment in this original series.