There is something about having a story set in an isolated place like the desert that automatically ups the creep factor. Too many beings can easily die in the desert and those that survive are tougher than nails, and modern civilization is miles away. Laura Bickle’s Dark Alchemy is set in just such a desert.
Petra Dee, has just experienced a devastating trauma in life and career. She packs up all of her geologist equipment and travels to Temperance, Wyoming. Her goal is to let time heal her heartache and guilt as she toils way at a mind numbing job of soil sampling. Maybe, just maybe, she might also find her missing father since Temperance was the last place he wrote from. Not only does trouble follow her, she pretty much leaps headfirst into it.
Temperance is a quiet, small Western town. A town with a history deeply tied with the Gold rush and alchemy. The town was founded by a man names Lascaris who brought wealth and prosperity to the town–then he vanished and the town was left to shrivel away. Now the town is controlled by two powers.One man is a known meth/wanna-be alchemist who uses his special drug to control the youth. The other man not only owns most of Temperance, but also employs silent men who are strong, creepy, and always followed by crows.
Alchemy is an ancient method for transforming matter, mostly associated with attempting to transform anything into gold. Two different methods of alchemy by two different in Temperance produce one outcome: horror. The single-minded purpose of these two has been devastating. People have lost their jobs thanks to the mysterious eerie workers. The young are violent, crazed, and not on this plane of reality. Lots of alcohol and resentment is thrown into the mix too. Then in strolls Petra who already has her own heavy bag of history.
As the story progresses on the mystery surrounding the bodies is just a shallow end to a much deeper pit of questions. At some point during the novel, the story goes from a somewhat believable tale of paranormal activities to a psychedelic confusion.
Bickle mirrors story and setting. The best way to explain this is to imagine yourself standing in the middle of the desert. It is quiet, beautiful, and boundless. The your nerves become jangled. The feeling of many eyes upon you lift the hair off of your skin. There is no end to this land. That is what you feel after reading this book. A creeping feeling of unease and the feeling that maybe it is best the book ends right now. For now
Dark Alchemy presents a mystery with one answer spawning many. It also tackles death and rebirth, manipulation, time, love, and willpower. Of all the themes explored in this novel, rebirth was the strongest one.
This has been one of the most enjoyable and unconventional novel I have read so far. The power in this novel was the atmosphere. It transported me easily to a place I am so deeply wary of. It is probably what most publishers classify as a paranormal story but it has a much more natural weight to it. It was so natural that I cannot help but associate dust and crows with it. Yet I would not call this one a paranormal romance. What “romance” there was in the novel was not really warranted or natural. Personally, I would have preferred no romantic angle.
For something different, eerie, and a great read, pick up Dark Alchemy and tell me if you don’t feel weird afterwards. Look for it on Amazon.
Dark Alchemy is available now. So is the second novel, Mercury Retrograde: A Dark Alchemy Novel