________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 30. . . .April 6, 2018


The Alchemists’ Council.

Cynthea Masson.
Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 2018.
421 pp., trade pbk., PDF & EPUB, $16.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77041-271-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77090-845-1 (PDF), ISBN 978-1-77090-846-8 (EPUB).

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

*** /4



Finally, in an act she worried might be sacrilege but which she was nonetheless willing to attempt as a last resort, she touched the Dragonblood fragment lightly against her interim pendant. The sudden spark caused by this action startled her.

Jaden stood up. She positioned herself immediately in front of the manuscript building door and firmly pressed the Dragonblood fragment against her pendant. The force threw Jaden off her feet. She could feel herself moving through alternating light and darkness as if she were being transported through a portal. She gripped the fragment and pendant, holding her hand still against the force propelling her body. Flashes of bright colours filled her vision. Suddenly, all movement ceased. Her body wrenched forward, and she instinctually reached out to steady herself, inadvertently letting go of both the fragment and the pendant. Nausea overwhelmed her. She could not make out the features of the figure standing before her in the dimly lit room.

“Welcome back.”


Jaden, a new initiate to the Alchemists’ Council, was only recently plucked off the streets of Vancouver and recruited to join a mysterious group of Alchemists who are tasked with maintaining elemental balance in the world. The elemental balance of the universe is maintained and represented by the Lapis, a sacred stone, and the Flaw, a flaw in that stone that prevents all beings in the universe from becoming a united One. The Council maintains balance in the regular world, unbeknownst to those who live in the world. The Council is challenged by the Rebel Branch, rouge alchemists that seek to control the Lapis and the Flaw and decrease the influence of the Council.

     The Alchemists’ Council exerts control over the outside world by the carefully calibrated release of Lapidarian Bees. When members of the Alchemists’ Council discover that Lapidarian Bees are vanishing from the pages of the alchemical manuscripts and consequently from the world, itself, they fear the influence of the Rebel Branch. Despite her lowly status as a Junior Initiate, Jaden and her fellow Junior Initiate, Arjan, are drawn into the fight to solve the mystery of the disappearing bees and prevent the Rebel Branch from interfering with the world. As Jaden becomes embroiled in Council politics, she begins to question some Council teachings and learns that all is not as she has been taught. With a war brewing between the Alchemists’ Council and the Rebel Branch, Jaden must decide were her allegiance lies.

     The Alchemists’ Council is a highly original novel with an intriguing premise. The book is engaging, and the political machinations between members of the Alchemists’ Council bring nuance to the characters, leaving the reader guessing about motivations and alliances. The novel suffers somewhat from a complex premise and a slow start, but once the action gets going, it is an enjoyable read. A good purchase for public and school libraries.


Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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