The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elisa Kova is probably the best YA fantasy books I read so far – and I wonder if this is really categorized as YA, I read conflicting information on this aspect.
This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.
For me is a 4 out of 5 stars book! In short, this is a book that will appeal to fantasy readers of all ages, with a great steampunk flavor, focus on the world building and story about the underdog.
First and foremost, let’s judge the cover: It is absolutely stunning. The person depicted is absolutely fierce and looks like she knows what she is doing. The color scheme is absolutely to my liking which adds value to it!
As for the book itself, the best elements of this book were the story and the world building, in my opinion. The characters, albeit likeable, are a little under the nose and the writing is good but it does not stand out.
The story is set in a very oppressed world, it is a story about revolution – and it occurs to me that I am listening to the Rogue One soundtrack while writing about it – or, even better, it is a story about rekindling a revolution.
And from here on, beware of the spoiler!
Let’s talk about the world building and I will just focus on certain elements that I genuinely loved and made the book stand out. I loved the premise which is that the world (Loom specifically) is actually oppressed by the Dragons who came from Nova and conquered all, primarily because they are the magic wielders of this world.
The Dragons imposed a number of “revolutions” including the association of a Fenthri – this is the name of the oppressed race – with one of the five guilds and the association must be self explanatory, hence everyone must have the relevant guild symbol tattooed on the face. Not having a tattoo makes a Fenthri illegal.
Another extremely interesting idea of the book is to represent Dragons and Fenthri as obviously visually different: the Dragons’ skins are vibrantly colored while the Fenthri are grey. I can genuinely see this aspect easily reflected in a visual mean – comics, tv series, movie.
There is a twist though: this is a third “category”, the Chimera, Fenthri who altered their body by adding Dragon’s blood and/or organs (Dragons regrow almost all parts of their body, unless they are killed with a blow to the heart or beheaded). The Chimera can wield magic and they can be as powerful as the Dragons.
The Dragons’ world is also built to reflect a caste system, they are divided in families and they are also hierarchically structured within each family. The concept is introduced in the book and explained enough in the book but I expect this to be further developed in the next book in the series!
As for the story, this is a story about rebellion, a story about hope (yes, I am definitely referring to Rogue One here) and the possibility to make the Loom a better place. I just love a good revolution book. The oppression is well described throughout the book, especially by drawing parallels to how the world used to be before the Dragon ruling was established.
The book is told through four – then five – points of view and I liked this. At the very beginning the story was a linear story told through three different points of view and I just felt for it. I thought it was just so clever. Unfortunately it could not be sustained throughout the book – especially if you want to have the rebellion and oppressor perspective – but I was entrenched by this use of the point of view. I understand it is not revolutionary but I found it a refreshing change compared to the books I read recently.
As for the writing itself, I cannot complain but it was not whimsical either. It was solid, clear, understandable despite having to introduce a brand new world to the reader.
Finally, the characters. I genuinely do not want to spend too much time on them but they are good, albeit “common”, if you allow me the use of this term. And I think it is a good choice, the world is complicated enough and there might be the need for more stable elements as well. In all of this, to some extent, I liked Leona’s character a bit more, she was properly represented as a ruthless and in love woman, a person who would do anything for her loved one, including sacrificing her own sister – well, actually kill her – and her own life.
Please let me know your thoughts about this book and if you found the review interesting!
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