Brenda Cooper

Reading Recommendation: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

The alchemy of stoneAt World Fantasy, they give you a ton of books.  I had brought one with me (Ken Scholes’ Canticle) which I finished there.  I also bought a new book, Ekaterina Sedia’s “The Alchemy of Stone.” Besides an art book (and art) by John Picacio, and a collection by my friend Tobias Buckell, that’s all I bought (Oh, and some jewelry by Willow).  I just finished The Alchemy of Stone.

I found it beautifully written, and slightly disturbing in the way that excellent fiction or poetry should be disturbing.  The city in the book is haunting and always a bit distant, as if it is seen through the a gauze, an every city of  magic caught in a time of wrenching change.  Characters include alchemists, gargoyles, men of science, and most importantly, the woman Mattie, a being created of gear and wood and whalebone with a heart that must be wound.

This was not a fast read for me; it took a week.  It falls in the category of books I can put down when I need to do something else, but which I look forward to returning to.  The feel and the tone are pure fantasy, and I had to let go of a need to understand everything in order to enjoy the book.  I did end up very happy with it, and I recommend it highly.  Note that it is often referred to as steampunk, and I suppose that at its core it is steampunk.  But to call it that would be to put it into a bottle, and it feels broader and bigger.

The cover, by the way, is haunting.