The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you—whichever came first.”

This book really surprised me! The Alchemists of Loom ended up being a wonderful steam punk set story, filled with mystery and twists, and had a beautiful message: You can be anything you want to be, you do not have to be the expectations that other people have for you.

The world felt like something right out of Borderlands. The characters were heartfelt and compassionate. The message was really important and meaningful.

But this world is very unique, and the new lingo could be a little confusing. The rundown is basically this:

There are two worlds, separated by the clouds:
Loom: The main setting of this book, that is home to Fenthri and Chimeras and their five guilds.
Nova: The Dragon homeland that is inhabited by three Dragon Houses.

There are three races:
Fenthri: Grey, black, white, the weakest of the three races, and have tattoos on their face depicting what guild they belong to.
Dragon: A vast array of colors, very primal, can regrow most things from their bodies, have magical abilities, enslaved Loom and sees Fenthri as servants.
Chimera: Fenthri with Dragon blood and/or organs. They are made by Alchemists, and are very strong, but not as strong as Dragons.

(None of the characters in this world are Human, but they are for sure Humanoids)

The three Dragon Houses:
Rok: Strongest house, and the Dragon King’s House.
Tam: Second strongest house, and very aligned with House Rok.
Xin: Weakest house.

The five Guilds of Loom:
Alchemists: Developed Chimeras, and the only guild to not be under the Dragon King’s thumb.
Rivets: Specializes in refining processes in steel mines and applications for gold.
Revolvers: Explores all the uses for guns and explosions!
Harvesters: Supplies all the bare materials to all the other guilds.
Ravens: Moves people and goods all around Loom.

The five guilds are all linked together as a system to help one another, but that’s been very hard ever since that Dragons of Nova traveled down from the clouds, into Loom, and made the Fenthri population do their bidding.

The people from these guilds have a face tattoo for easy recognition. People of Loom are not able to choose or pick which house they are in. They are basically pre-placed, and forced to take two tests. If they are unable to pass these tests, they could be sentenced to death.

Not having a mark is also illegal, and Ari, our main protagonist, does not have a mark. The world knows her as the most notorious criminal of Loom, the White Wraith, and her story starts out with her completing a heist. Her past is a big mystery, but as the book goes on we are able to learn more and more.

“It doesn’t matter who she was. It matters who she can become…”

During that heist, she meets a Dragon named Cvareh. Ari hates, and refuses to trust, any Dragon, but when he offers her a boon to take him to the Alchemist Guild she finds herself unable to refuse. Cvareh is from House Xin and in desperate need to protect his family.

Ari also has an adorable assistant named Florence, who completely won me over. I was unsure of her age until towards the end of the book (16), so for a while I thought her and Ari were a thing and would end up together (this made me extremely happy, by the way), but I was kind of let down when I realized Flor’s age and that the relationship was more of a big sister/little sister relationship.

But Ari does identify as bisexual, and even though we don’t actually see her with another woman I was still happy with the representation. Also, I cannot wait to find out all about Ari’s past and the demons that still are chasing her.

“Don’t let the shadows of the past smother the possibility for a bright future.”

The other thing that I loved, besides the story and the world, was the writing. Elise Kova really strung together some breathtakingly beautiful sentences that left me wanting so much more. Her talent really shined with this book, and it left me very interested in reading more of her work.

“She waited for him to say something more. The silence held ciphers of truths that lingered between them, written in a script that neither knew yet how to decipher. This would not be the moment they were given sound.”

Like I said, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. My only main criticism was the feeling of queer-baiting through the first half. Maybe if they author told the ages of the girls, or explained Ari and Flor’s relationship a little better, I wouldn’t have felt like that.

Also, this is my own personal opinion. You might not even pick up the vibe I was getting from the girls. Maybe I’m so desperate for more F/F books that I’m trying to see it every time I read.

My other minor criticism is that the romance in this book does feel a little too insta-love-y for my personal tastes. Like, it went from cold to hot really quickly. Like, in the blink of an eye. It didn’t bother me, or pull me out of the story, but it didn’t feel 100% natural.

I know my break down above could seem a little overwhelming, because of all the new terms, but creating a completely new world out of nothing is never easy and there will always be a learning curve. This book is really rewarding and really worth the time. I honestly loved this, and I cannot wait for The Dragons of Nova in April 2017.

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