The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Now that all (well, most) of our Harry Potter questions have been answered, some mysteries remain: Will another series capture our imaginations? Will there be a second coming of Harry Potter? How long will we have to wait?

I believe, as Stephen King said in his article, that there are always more great stories to discover. With that said, part of what made Harry so special was the community that developed around the series, and I think it’ll take something remarkable for that to happen again in such force. As far as the stories themselves, one series might not be able to capture everything we enjoyed about Harry, but there are good candidates to carry on with different aspects, and The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (no, not THAT Michael Scott) has a handle on action/adventure and mythology. The characters are engaging, and the juxtaposition of myth and modern-day kept me intrigued.

The Alchemyst is the story of twins Josh and Sophie Newman, who find themselves caught in the middle of a battle between Nick Fleming/Nicholas Flamel and his nemesis John Dee. Dee has captured The Book of Abraham the Mage, which Nick has been protecting for hundreds of years and which holds the secret to the survival of the human race (as well as other alchemy secrets such as the philosopher’s stone). He plans to turn it over to the Dark Elders, who will use it to enslave humans (or worse). In a battle, Josh kept Dee from getting the last two pages, and Dee is out for revenge. Meanwhile, there might be more to the twins than meets the eye, as certain prophecies in the book appear to apply to them, and they may have powers beyond what they have ever imagined.

I put off reading this book for a while because I didn’t want to start another series, and because I didn’t know how serious the alchemy stuff would be. But this book was flat-out fun and adventure the whole way through, full of vampires, ghosts, wereboars, and magic, though none of them are quite what you would expect. It managed to make do with enough explanation to make me feel like I understood the history without bogging the story down with exposition. It’s definitely a natural place for kids (and kids at heart) to turn after finishing Harry Potter (or even just after having their interest in Nicholas Flamel piqued by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone). I will definitely be waiting for the next book in the series . . . and that’s saying something, because before I started it, I spent a great deal of time explaining to Mike why I didn’t want to get caught up in another series that wasn’t completed. Hooray for the kind of fiction that reminds us all why reading can be, after all, plain old fun.

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