The Alchemist’s Daughter
Sidonie Quince, a teenager in 1587 England, lives with her father, alchemist Simon Quince, in Charing Cross. She has inherited from her late mother the ability to scry into the future, but considers her gifts a curse, for she foresees only disaster for her country. When Sidonie’s father receives an invitation from Lord Burleigh to attend upon Her Majesty at Hampton Court, Sidonie accompanies him, and dares to tell Queen Elizabeth the truth about the forthcoming Armada. But to prepare for war, England needs money, and Simon’s foolish promise to turn base metal into gold leads only to trouble. While he travels to London for supplies, Sidonie and her friendly neighbor, apothecary’s son Kit Aubrey, head to Glastonbury Abbey to find a mysterious red powder that may be their only hope. Their adventure leads them into the company of Dr. Dee, Lady Mary Herbert, William Shakespeare, and other Elizabethan notables – plus more danger than they ever expected.
I was enchanted by this lighthearted historical fantasy. The scenes describing Simon Quince’s failed experiments (which give off foul odors that cause his servants to flee) are hilarious, and the author’s precise language and brilliant depictions of the Elizabethan world are a pleasure to experience. Young adults will delight in the romance and the magical setting, and adults will appreciate this wonderfully written novel as well.