The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams has one of the freshest concepts I’ve seen for a YA novel in a LONG time. It doesn’t take place in a post-apocalyptic world, there are no werewolves, there are no vampires, there is no race to save the earth. Refreshing, right?
I mean, don’t get it twisted, I love a good vampire/werewolf love triangle just as much as the next girl. But it’s been done. Trend? Check. Let’s move on and think of other things, authors. No need to continue riding the coattails of the Twilight/Harry Potter/Hunger Games Empire. Let’s spice things up, shall we?
Serephina Ames was transformed into an “Incarnate” several hundred years ago by her first love, Cyrus. He was the alchemist’s son and had found the formula to eternal life. Nothing can be simple in love–especially immortality. To become an Incarnate, you must sever your soul from your own body and take a host. Except rather than living with a dual consciousness, you effectively killed that person–while their body remained behind for you to use. The body remains viable for about 10 years, and then you must find another or face final death.
For over half a millinea, Serephina stayed at Cyrus’ side, switching bodies to fit to his “type” and taking on hundreds of new identities. They made others like themselves and lived in an immortal coven. Until, one day–after years of discontent with stealing human lives–she escapes from Cyrus and goes to meet her final death.
Things don’t go quite as planned, however, when Serephina’s failing host form tries to resuscitate 16 year old Kailey Morgan (a car accident victim) and inadvertently takes over her body. With Kailey’s body comes a new sense of freedom, a life away from Cyrus’ rule and a new set of friends, family, and a new love interest. An escape.
But how long with Seraphina’s peaceful stolen life last?
The Alchemy of Forever is a short book and I flew through it in a couple of days. I enjoyed it, and the story flowed pretty evenly. Williams’ writing style is a bit simplistic, even for the YA audience. This is not going to be a book-to-movie empire, but it was interesting all the same. It really makes you think about how you would live your life if you had the capability to change bodies. Would you feel guilty for the death of the original human or would you feel exultation in your new form? Would you choose someone beautiful every time or would you switch it up? Neat concept, for sure.
That being said, I didn’t really understand how Seraphina/Kailey could feel a love connection with Noah so fast, when really she didn’t even know him at all. She also makes some really obvious dumb-girl-in-a-movie mistakes that make you want to yell out loud at the book. But whatever, with no conflict there would be no story, I suppose. It would be really hard to assimilate into a stranger’s life without making it obvious that you had no idea what was going on.
But imagine the freedom of being able to be anyone.
You could reinvent yourself so many times and learn so many skills with that long lifespan. Each incarnation could be a better version of you, if you strove for goodness.
Williams ended the book with a clear set up for a sequel, and I will definitely follow up on Seraphina’s story. But for now I’m left with something to think about…
3 incarnations of 5