by Samantha Cohoe
Thank you Wednesday Books for letting me apart of this blog tour and providing me with an eARC through NetGalley.
Please read an except of this book below this review!
Can we just take a moment to appreciate that stunning cover? I love the colors on it and honestly it made me want to read this book even more than the premise!
This is one of those books that you devour in a day.
This book totally started out strong. You meet Thea and automatically know she is not happy with her mother. Her mother comes off as horrendous and cruel right from the start and you are rooting for Thea to get away from her. I mean, she is keeping Thea away from the only person who has every encouraged and cherished her the way she deserves… he just happened to be the apprentice of her alchemist mother. They have been writing letters back and forth and she knows she will see him again.
But Thea is more mad about the fact she and her mother were so close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone when her mother locked her out of the laboratory! She did this to take all the credit for herself when she KNOWS she was a key player in the creating of it as well! Little does Theta know that creating such a whispered-about item takes more than just smarts, but it also might take your sanity.
I really enjoyed reading from the perspective of Thea. She is strong, worried about herself and doesn’t take no for an answer. She makes some pretty questionable decisions. As I mentioned before, the story started out super strong, but then it started to linger. The romance felt a little forced to me, and towards the end you find out why but the journey there wasn’t for me. She felt a little love-struck with Will and I all I felt between them was her worry and desperation to be with him.
Dominic on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. I loved that he kept trying to get Thea to see the bright side of things, even when there was basically nothing bright to see. Thea just… she just got on my nerves in a few parts. Which, she is a flawed character so that is to be expected, you know?
The writing was absolutely lyrical. I am not usually a big fan of historical fiction, but Cohoe makes me want to try more with her descriptions and the way she weaves sentences together.
Trigger Warnings : Assault (that read as a rape at first), self harm, mental illness and mentions of madness through out the whole book
A Golden Fury Excerpt
My mother was screaming at the Comte. Again.
I slammed the front doors behind me and walked down
the carriageway, under the dappled shade of the pop-
lars that lined it. A hundred paces away, I still heard her,
though at least I could no longer hear the Comte’s frantic
endearments and low, rapid pleading. He should know by
now that wasn’t the way. Perhaps I should tell him. Adrien
was the first of my mother’s patrons I had ever liked, and I
did not want to leave Normandy just as spring was break-
ing. Just as we were beginning to make progress.
Though perhaps we were not. Mother would not be
screaming at the Comte if the work were going well. She
would not take the time. Alchemy was a demanding sci-
ence, even if some scoffed and called it charlatanry or
magic. It required total concentration. If the work were
going well, the Comte would scarcely exist to her, nor
would I, now that she would not let me be of use. The com-
position must have broken again. This was about when it
had, last round. I could not be certain, since she had taken
away my key to the laboratory. She could hardly have de-
vised a worse insult than that if she had tried, and lately
she did seem to be trying. The laboratory was mine as
much as it was hers. If she did succeed in producing the
White Elixir—which turned all metals into silver—then it
was only because of my help. She had found Jābir’s text
languishing in a Spanish monastery, but it had been I who
translated it when her Arabic wasn’t nearly up to the job.
I had labored for months over the calcinary furnace to
make the philosophic mercury the text took as its starting
point. I had the scars on my hands and arms to prove it.
And now that success might be close, she wished to shut
me out and deny my part, and claim it for herself alone.
But if she was acting ill and cross, it meant she had
failed. A low, smug hum of satisfaction warmed me. I
didn’t want the work to fail, but I didn’t want her to suc-
ceed without me, either.
A distant smashing sound rang out from the chateau.
My mother shattering something against the wall, no doubt.
I sighed and shifted my letter box to the crook of my
I knew what this meant. Another move. Another man.
The Comte had lasted longer than the rest. Over two years,
long enough that I had begun to hope I would not have to
do it all again. I hated the uncertainty of those first weeks,
before I knew what was expected of me, whether Mother’s
new patron had a temper and what might set it off, whether
he liked children to speak or be silent. Though I was no
longer a child, and that might bring its own problems. A
chill passed over me, despite the warm afternoon sunshine.
God only knew what the next one would be like. My mother
had already run through so many of them. And with the
recent changes in France, there were fewer rich men than
ever looking to give patronage to an expensive alchemist,
even one as beautiful and famous as Marguerite Hope.
I veered off the carriageway, into the soft spring grass,
dotted here and there with the first of the lavender anemo-
nes. I sat by the stream, under the plum tree.
There was no screaming here, no pleading, no signs that
my life was about to change for the worse. I inhaled the soft,
sweet scent of plum blossoms and opened my letter box. If
this was to be my last spring in Normandy, I wanted to re-
member it like this. Springtime in Normandy was soft and
sweet, sun shining brightly and so many things blossoming
that the very air was perfumed with promise. Everything
was coming extravagantly to life, bursting out of the dead
ground and bare trees with so much energy other impos-
sible things seemed likely, too. I had always been hopeful
in Normandy when it was spring. Especially last spring,
when Will was still here. When we sat under this very tree,
drank both bottles of champagne he had stolen from the
cellars, and spun tales of everything we could achieve.
I took out his last letter, dated two months ago.
This is my address now—as you see I’ve left
Prussia. It turns out that everything they say
about the Prussians is quite true. I’ve never
met a more unbending man than my patron
there. One day past the appointed date and
he tried to throw me in prison for breach of
contract! He thinks alchemy can be held to
the same strict schedule as his serfs.
Laws against false alchemists were very harsh in Ger-
many, as Will knew full well when he sought patronage
there. I had begged him to go somewhere else, though he
had few enough choices. He was my mother’s apprentice,
with no achievements of his own to make his reputation.
His training had been cut abruptly short when Mother
found us together under this plum tree, watching the sun-
rise with clasped hands and two empty bottles of cham-
pagne. She’d seen to it that Will was gone by noon. It was
no use telling her that all we’d done was talk through the
night, or that the one kiss we’d shared had been our first,
and had gone no further. He had behaved with perfect re-
spect for me, but she wouldn’t believe it. My mother had
imagined a whole path laid before my feet in that moment,
and scorched it from the earth with Greek fire.
I turned to the next page.
I blame myself, of course, Bee, for not
heeding your advice. I can picture your face
now, wondering what I expected. It would
almost be worth all the trouble I’ve caused
myself if I could come to you and see your
expression. You must be the only woman in
the world who is never lovelier than when
you’ve been proven right.
The keen thrill of pleasure those words had brought me
when I first read them had faded now, and left me feeling
uncertain. Should I write back knowingly, teasing him for
his recklessness? I had tried this, and was sure I sounded
like a scold no matter what he said about my loveliness
when proven right. I took out my latest draft, which struck
a more sincere tone. I read the lines over, saying how I
worried for him, how I missed him. I crumpled it in my
hand halfway through. Too much emotion. It didn’t do to
show such dependence on a man. My mother had shown
me that. I didn’t wish to emulate her in everything, but
I would be a fool to deny her skill at winning masculine
devotion. I tried again.
I am sitting under the plum tree where we had our last picnic.
I know how you feel about nostalgia, but I hope you will
forgive me this one instance. I fear this will be our last spring
in Normandy—perhaps even in France. Many of my mother’s
friends have left already, and though you may well condemn
them as reactionaries, the fact remains that there are very few good
Republicans with the ready cash to pay for our pursuits.
I sighed again and crumpled the page. Somehow I could
never seem to write to him about the Revolution without
a touch of irony creeping in. I didn’t want that. Will had
put his hopes for a better world in the new order, and even
though I was less hopeful than he, I loved him for it. At
least he wanted a better world. Most alchemists simply
wanted better metals.
I tried to imagine he was here. It wouldn’t be difficult
then. He was so good at setting me at ease. His admira-
tion was as intoxicating as wine, but unlike wine it sharp-
ened my wits instead of dulling them. I was never cleverer
than when Will was there to laugh with me.
My chest constricted at the memory of Will’s laugh. I
didn’t know anyone who laughed like him. The Parisian
aristocrats I had known all had so much consciousness of
the sound they made when they did it. The Comte wasn’t
like them, but he was a serious man and laughed rarely.
My mother didn’t laugh at all.
But Will. He laughed like it came from the loud, bursting
core of him. Like he couldn’t have kept it in if he wanted
to, and why would he want to? And when he was done
laughing, he would look at me like no one else ever had.
Like he saw only me, not as an accessory to my mother,
but as myself. And not as an odd girl whose sharp edges
would need to be softened. Will liked the edges. The
sharper they cut, the more they delighted him.
I threw my letters into the letter box and snapped it
shut. I looked around for somewhere to hide the box,
and noticed too late that one of my crumpled drafts had
blown toward the stream. My mother appeared on the
hill above me, the late afternoon sun lighting up her
golden hair like an unearned halo. She walked down the
hill with measured steps and stopped a few yards above
me, I assumed because she wished to enjoy the experi-
ence of being taller than me again for a few moments.
Her eye moved to the crumpled paper. I ran to it and
stuffed it into my pocket before she could take it, though
my haste in hiding the failed letter told her all I didn’t
wish her to know.
“Oh dear,” said my mother. “I do hope you haven’t been
wasting your afternoon trying to find the right words to
say to that boy.”
My mother was tolerant of my letter writing these days,
perhaps because she was confident I would never see Will
again. She had smiled when she heard of Will’s contract
in Prussia. He won’t find it so easy to charm his way past the
Prussian alchemy laws. In Germany, one must deliver results, not
pretty smiles, or end in prison.
“I wouldn’t have an afternoon to waste if you would let
me into the laboratory,” I said.
“Don’t be pitiful, Thea,” said my mother. “Surely you
can think of something worthwhile to do when I don’t
happen to need your assistance.”
I clenched my teeth so tight that my jaw ached. Shut-
ting me out of the laboratory, our laboratory, was the great-
est injustice she had ever committed against me. Worse
than all the moving about, worse than sending Will
away, worse than any insult she could think to level at me.
Before she had done that, I believed we were together in
alchemy at least, even if nothing else. That she had raised
and trained me not simply to be of use to her, but to be her
partner. Her equal, one day. Throwing me out of the lab-
oratory just when we might achieve what we had worked
for told me that Will was right. She would never let me
claim credit for my part of the work. She would never ac-
cept me as an alchemist in my own right.
And yet she described it as though she had simply let
me off my chores. As if I were no more necessary than a
servant. There was no point in arguing with her, but even
so I could not let it stand.
“I am not your assistant,” I said.
“Oh?” she asked. “Do you have news, then? Have you
found a patron on your own merits? Do you intend to
strike out on your own?”
“Perhaps I will,” I said, my face growing hot. “Perhaps
I will stay here when you are finally finished tormenting
the poor Comte.”
My mother had a perfect, deceptively sweet beauty:
golden blond and blue-eyed with a round, doll-like face. It
made the venom that sometimes twisted her expression hard
to quite believe in. Many men simply didn’t. They preferred
to ignore the evidence of their minds for the evidence of
their senses. I, of course, knew her better than they did.
I tensed, preparing.
But instead of lashing out, my mother turned aside, a
hand to her chest. A tremor passed over her; she bowed
her head against it.
Mother had been strangely unwell for weeks. At first
I responded to her illness as she had taught me to, with
distaste and disapproval, as though falling sick were an
ill-considered pastime of those with insufficient moral for-
titude. But if she noticed how unpleasant it was to receive
so little sympathy when unwell, she did not show it. She
had locked herself away in the laboratory every day until
late at night, ignoring my silence as much as she ignored
the Comte’s pleas that she rest. I had not thought much of
it until this moment. Any pain great enough to turn her
from chastising me for thinking I could do alchemy with-
out her must be serious indeed.
“Mother?” I asked.
“You will go where I tell you.” Her voice was low and
breathless, almost a gasp. “For now, that is to dinner. Wear
the green taffeta.”
“The robe à la française?” I asked, perplexed. I hadn’t
worn that dress since before the Estates General met. Its
style was the hallmark of the ancien régime: wide pan-
niered hips, structured bodice, and elaborate flounces. “But
it’s out of fashion.”
“So is our guest,” said my mother.
She went up the hill again, then turned back to me at
“Thea,” she said, all the sharpness gone from her voice.
“I know you do not believe it any longer, but everything I
do is for you.”
It was the sort of thing she always said. Before this year,
I had always believed it, more or less. At least, everything
she did was for the both of us. She had considered me an
extension of herself, so that doing things for me was no
different than doing them for herself. Why else take so
much care to train me, to see to it that I had the tutors
I needed to learn every language necessary—more even
than she knew? To take me with her in all her travels to
seek out manuscripts? She was an impatient teacher at
times, but a good one. A thorough one. And in turn I was
a good student. The best.
Until we were close to our goal. Then, suddenly, I was
a rival. And my mother did not tolerate rivals.
“You are right, Mother,” I said. “I don’t believe that any
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