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

Sophie and Josh Newman are ordinary fifteen-year-olds (twins), spending their summer vacation working part-time jobs and living with family in San Francisco while their parents go off to oversee an archeological dig. Suddenly their dreams of saving up enough money to buy a car at sixteen are shattered when a strange man named Dr. John D. enters the used book shop where Josh works, owned by a Nick Fleming (Nicholas Flamel). Chaos and magic spills out into the streets, alerting Sophie, who works at a small coffee shop across the way, and also Nicholas’ wife Perry (actually Perenelle). The strange man desperately wants a book, the Codex—or Book of Abraham the Mage—and in the confusion rips it from the hands of Josh, leaving behind two of the last pages in the boy’s hands. Together the teens and Nicholas flee the store, forced to leave behind the powerful sorceress Perenelle to hold back the nefarious John D. Nicholas then reveals his identity to the teens, telling them that he and Perenelle are actually over 500 years old, kept alive by mixing a magical potion of immortality found within the Codex, kept financially comfortable by using the Philosophers Stone formula also found within to transform copper and lead into gold and coal into diamonds.

What follows is an adventure of intrigue and magic, where one exciting turn leads to another. Sophie and Josh manage to stay just ahead of Dr. John D. while Nicholas Flamel attempts to find a way to release their latent powers. Beneath it all, there is a millennia-long war between ancient, powerful, and terrible beings called the Elders and known by humans as the many gods and heroes of myth and lore. Dr. John D. serves a particularly malicious group known as the Dark Elders, who want to use the Codex to return themselves to prominence and dominate the earth once more.

Michael Scott mixes factual characters from history, magic, a variety of ancient myths, and locations on continents around the world into the adventures of his teen heroes. This first book, The Alchemyst, is especially exciting because all of the locations are in California, eventually even leading the characters to Ojai, a location that many Ventura County residents know quite well. I loved this book and any readers familiar with young-adult series like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson saga will love to discover this exciting series here at E.P. Foster Library, or any of our other library locations in either audio or text format (I especially enjoyed the reading by actor Denis O’Hare).


Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader