The Scarlet Alchemist

By Kylie Lee Baker

Hardcover edition

Publisher Harlequin Imprint Inkyard Press ISBN


The Scarlet Alchemist

In stock


Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism,Language: Infrequent Use,Language: Strong Language,Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes,Violence: Graphic Descriptions,Violence: Sexual Assault/Rape

New from the author of The Keeper of Night comes a dark YA fantasy duology set in an alternate Tang Dynasty China, where alchemy has flourished but so has income inequality, and a poor biracial girl with the ability to raise the dead gets caught up in the dangerous political games of the royal family. Perfect for fans of Julie Kagawa and Chloe Gong.

Zilan dreams of becoming a royal alchemist, of providing for her family by making alchemical gold and gems for the wealthy to eat in order to stay young forever. But for now, she’s trapped in her impoverished village in southern China, practicing an illegal form of alchemy to keep food on the table—resurrecting the dead, for a price.

When Zilan finally has the chance to complete her imperial exams, she ventures to the capital to compete against the best alchemists in the country in tasks she’ll be lucky to survive, let alone pass. On top of that, her reputation for raising the dead has followed her, and the Crown Prince himself seeks out her help, suspecting a coming assassination attempt.

The more Zilan succeeds in her alchemy, the more she gets caught in the dangerous political games of the royal family. There are monsters lurking within the palace walls, and it’s only a matter of time before they—and secrets of Zilan’s past—catch up with her.

Content note. Historical note.
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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Baker once again plays with life and death, launching a new alternate Chinese history series for fans of Judy I. Lin's A Magic Steeped in Poison and Xiran Jay Zhao's Iron Widow. Seventeen-year-old Zilan, who is biracial, white and Chinese, must head to the capital for the highly competitive civil service exams to become an imperial alchemist so that she can take care of her impoverished family and spite the father who abandoned her-but her illegal use of life alchemy to perform resurrections has drawn the attention of the crown prince who wants to hire her. As Zilan undergoes the grueling alchemy tests, she is drawn deeper into the rich and deadly politics of court as everyone seeks the power of immortality. In a genre packed full of competition-based plots, Baker's stands unique in its multifaceted worldbuilding and no-holds-barred gore, where the consequences of characters' choices are more than looming threats as the Empress strives to purge the royal court of perceived enemies. The historical detail and fantasy elements fuse to create a lush atmosphere while pushing the stakes increasingly higher. Zilan's deeply flawed character remains sympathetic despite her temper and mistakes, cultivating a strong character arc that fuels the reluctant allies-to-lovers romance. Fans of The Untamed will feel this novel was written especially for them. The main cast is Chinese. VERDICT A ruthless and standout series opener to a dark, adrenaline-fueled duology. Highly recommended for all collections.-Emmy Nealα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fantasy/Science Fiction High Plus (Grades 9 & Up)

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