The Alchemists’ Council
As a new Initiate with the Alchemists’ Council, Jaden is trained to maintain the elemental balance of the world, while fending off interference by the malevolent Rebel Branch. Bees are disappearing from the pages of the ancient manuscripts in Council dimension and from the outside world, threatening its very existence. Jaden navigates alchemy’s complexities, but the more she learns, the more she begins to question Council practices. Erasure — a procedure designed not only to remove individuals from Council dimension but also from the memories of other alchemists — troubles Jaden, and she uses her ingenuity to remember one of the erased people. In doing so, she realizes the Rebel Branch might not be the enemy she was taught to fight against.
Jaden is caught between her responsibility to the Council and her growing allegiance to the rebels, as the Council finds itself at the brink of war. She is faced with an ethical dilemma involving the free will of all humanity, and must decide whether or not she can save the worlds.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Alchemists’ Council is a quietly magical novel that delights in language, thought, and learning. Jaden is a new initiate into the Alchemists’ Council, a mystical, interdimensional organization devoted to maintaining balance and harmony on Earth. But as Jaden begins her studies, she discovers that an internal splinter group is trying to subvert the council’s influence—and it’s possible she agrees with them. Cynthea Masson’s writing is fluid and poetic even when she’s building metaphysical worlds, and her dialogue is light, witty, and always natural…even at its most philosophical.
A battle for free will simmers throughout Masson's evocatively crafted fantasy. Vancouverite Jaden is initiated into the Alchemists' Council a group of nearly immortal balancers of universal elements and thrust into a world of honor and deceit. The carefully crafted web of secrets surrounding the council and the much-feared Rebel contingent begins to unravel when Jaden and her fellow initiate Arjan learn of an erasure the eradication of a defiant council member from the memory of all lower-level council members. Continuing to support the council becomes a murky proposition as Jaden is approached by the Rebels and learns that she sympathizes with their beliefs. Masson (The Elijah Tree) has a lyrical writing style that echoes some of the English romantics' focus on beauty and nature. She excels at propelling the story forward with complex characters, and readers will be intrigued by Jaden's internal struggle between what she is bound to do and what she feels is right. Some will not have the patience for the especially dense first chapters that introduce the layered mythology; others will be consumed by the council and its members and be entirely satisfied by this smart, well-constructed story with many links to contemporary environmental and political concerns.