cover image The Alchemist of Souls

The Alchemist of Souls

Anne Lyle. Angry Robot, $7.99 mass market (480p) ISBN 978-0-85766-214-9

Lyle’s impressive debut is set in an alternate Elizabethan England, where the sons of the widowed queen await the ambassador of the skraylings, a New World race whose mercantile alliance is vital to English interests. Unemployed swordsman Maliverny Catlyn, in need of cash to maintain his brother in a lunatic asylum, takes a gig as the ambassador’s bodyguard. Soon he and his tutor in the skrayling language, Coby Hendricks, an apprentice in an acting company and secretly a woman in disguise, are caught up in political intrigue. A lively cast of actors and their down-at-the-heel associates contrasts neatly with mysterious powers and goals of the inhuman skraylings as a theatrical competition in the ambassador’s honor offers opportunities for both actors and assassins. With an effective mix of espionage, backstage drama, and mystery, Lyle provides compelling drama in an intriguing setting. Agent: John Berlyne, the Zeno Agency. (Apr.)