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Synopsis: When Zoe Faust–herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon–begins unpacking her bags, she can’t help but notice she’s picked up a stow away: a living, breathing, three-and-half-foot gargoyle. Dorian Robert-Houdin is no simple automaton, nor is he a homunculus; in fact, he needs Zoe’s help to decipher a centuries-old text that explains exactly what he is. Zoe, who’s trying to put her alchemical life behind her, isn’t so sure she can help. But after a murder victim is discovered on her front porch, Zoe realized she’s tangled up in ancient intrigue that can’t be ignored.

My thoughts: I love supernatural stories; I love stories where it’s an ordinary member of the public that is investigating a crime; I love tea and scrummy recipes. Mix them all together and you get this book. I’ve been trying to think of some constructive criticism but can’t really.

It’s a fast easy read; the characters are well rounded and believable. I thought maybe we could have had more about Max Liu. I was intrigued by the herbalist knowledge and family background and would have liked to know more. I’ve seen a few negative comments about the recipes and having too many paragraphs about food but as a lover of works by Joanne Fluke and Laura Childs who fill their crime stories with cookie and tea recipes that I enjoyed that element a lot. So much so the day after finishing it I sought out a local vegan cafe for some vegan food of my own.

I liked the addition of the alchemy and immortality. I’m not naturally scientifically minded so occasionally got a bit confused when those elements were discussed but not enough that it distracted from the story. And I loved Dorian. He may have been my favourite character of them all.

Overall I loved the book and am keen to read her other works. A big thumbs up

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