For Ash Woods, practicing alchemy is a crime.
Only an elite few are legally permitted to study the science of magic―so when Ash is rejected by Lancaster College of Alchemic Science, he takes a job as the school’s groundskeeper instead, forced to learn alchemy in secret.
When he’s discovered by the condescending and brilliant apprentice Ramsay Thorne, Ash is sure he’s about to be arrested―but instead of calling the reds, Ramsay surprises Ash by making him an offer: Ramsay will keep Ash’s secret if he helps her find the legendary Book of Source, a sacred text that gives its reader extraordinary power.
As Ash and Ramsay work together and their feelings for each other grow, Ash discovers their mission is more dangerous than he imagined, pitting them against influential and powerful alchemists―Ash’s estranged father included. Ash’s journey takes him through the cities and wilds across New Anglia, forcing him to discover his own definition of true power and how far he and other alchemists will go to seize it.
When I read “Infinity Alchemist” by Kacen Callender, I found it complex and powerful, both the narrative and the relationships within the novel. The voice of Ash as a character was compelling from the very beginning. It’s a voice that might resonate with many others, those who find their path in life difficult or unfair. As Ash explores his power and alchemy, how he embraces that power resonates as much as the complex emotions written on the page.
Part of why the story is so complex and powerful is the relationships within the novel, between Ramsey, Ash and eventually a third person (no spoilers), I saw that the emotions are far from simple but the love between all three is engaging as they journey to save the Book from powerful alchemists.
The other reason I found the story so engaging was the use of magic within the story, how it embraces concepts of spiritualism from alternate religions, the idea that we shape our reality into what we want through love and trust. What the novel does an excellent job of portraying is how difficult that concept actually is but I loved how authentic the magic was presented but also the world building within the novel. This novel is exquisitely written, the details crafted with care and the details around how magic is used and works is part of that care.
If you love YA fantasy with LGBTQ characters, including trans and polyamorous characters of color, this novel should be one that you check out. The worldbuilding is detailed and the story is complex and powerful, especially the dynamic ending and the relationships within. I think it is going to be the type of story that will resonate with many people and is a novel that should be read if you like emotional novels.
Rating: 5 out of 5 portals.