An alchemist moves to Oregon in an attempt to leave her old ways behind only to find that they’ve followed her in the form of a 3-foot-tall talking gargoyle.
While she’s unpacking boxes in Portland, Zoe Faust discovers an unwelcome addition to her baggage: a stone gargoyle as tall as a yardstick. She thinks that having an unexpected and unwieldy stone statue is trouble enough until the gargoyle comes to life and greets her in a thick French accent. Dorian Robert-Houdin—of course a French-speaking gargoyle must have a hyphenated name—was brought to life by his father, a renowned human magician in the 1800s. Dorian is desperate for Zoe’s help, because in spite of the magic that brought him to life, his animation appears to be fading. Terrified of being trapped in his own stone body, he’s followed Zoe to Portland because he knows the truth about her: She’s not just some herbal hobbyist, but a real alchemist. Zoe has been hoping to escape her old life as a closeted immortal in France and also needs a new town where no one will guess her secret. Once she agrees to help Dorian, Zoe runs into trouble of her own when the handyman she’s hired to help with the house shows up dead on her doorstep on his first day. Zoe lets it slip to Detective Max Liu that she can tell poison was involved, but she can’t tell him that she can smell it on the body. Now Zoe’s got two mysteries to solve, each a case of life and death, and the best help she’s got are her new stone friend and a troublemaker kid, Brixton, who may be in it just to prove Dorian’s existence to the outside world.
Though the world of Pandian’s new series may not sound any more appealing than Zoe’s vegan recipes, it’s just as satisfying in the end.