Madly

Amy Alward. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6118-4
The gathering of potion ingredients is at the center of this fantasy romance from Alward (author of The Oathbreaker's Shadow, writing as Amy McCulloch). Samantha Kemi is part of a long line of alchemists, but her family's business is failing because of competitive synthetic potions. When Sam's country's princess, Evelyn, aims a love spell incorrectly (she falls in love with herself), a centuries-old tradition of alchemical competition is invoked, and Sam must travel around the world figuring out and collecting the ingredients for the antidote. Unfortunately, Evelyn's major suitor, Zain Aster, is also Sam's business rival, and he seems to be interested in more than just Sam's potions. Sadly, their romance is somewhat unconvincing, and the characters are entirely at the mercy of the plot. For instance, a scene in which Sam administers a truth serum to her grandfather over the breakfast table finishes not with recriminations, even though truth potions are illegal, but with everyone (including the grandfather) applauding Sam's gumption; the narrative supports whatever Sam does, however wrong, to keep events moving. Ages 12–up. Agent: Juliet Mushens, Agency Group. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Genre: Children's
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