Book Review: The Dark Alchemist, Rhys A. Jones

Book Review: The Dark Alchemist,The Wonderworking Series Book 1,  Rhys A. Jones


The Dark Alchemist, Rhys A. Jones

Young Adult: The Dark Alchemist,The Wonderworking Series Book 1,  Rhys A. Jones

Blog Tour September 30, 2022


Oscar Chambers lives in a very different version of 2020 England than ours. The major wars of the 20th Century had very different outcomes, resulting in an island isolated from the European mainland, with a perimeter constantly guarded against invasion. Rationing is part of life; hunger is not unusual. Technology also differs immensely, with gas-powered cars being very rare and the Internet being far different than the World Wide Web we know.


Oscar, “Oz” to his friends, lives with his mother in a large home that was once an orphanage. His father inherited the home where they continue to live after his accidental death three years earlier. It is a brilliant place to have a Halloween party. Oz and his best friends, Ellie and Ruff have planned this get-together for weeks. The orphanage is featured in some books about haunted houses in England and they are eager to spend the night there.


Armed with flashlights, fortified by special Halloween treats made by Oz’s mother, the three friends set up a movie and prepare themselves for ghosts. Of course, they don’t really believe in ghosts. This is the 21st Century, after all. Ghost stories are for kids, not teenagers, and spending the night in a creepy, allegedly haunted, building is just fun and games. At least, until they hear footsteps in an empty room.


Thus begins an adventure that features alchemists, avatars, human experiments gone wrong, messages from the dead, and strange artifacts with unknown powers. Oz’s father died while searching for some mysterious and powerful objects, and despite his youth Oz has been pulled into his father’s search. He is not the only one searching, though, and there are those who are quite willing to pry the objects from Oz’s cold, dead fingers.


In this darkly suspenseful YA novel, Rhys A. Jones introduces us to characters who are charming, mysterious, and wounded. Oscar and his mother are still grieving for his father, sometimes grieving in ways that hurt the other one unintentionally. Ellie and Ruff are loyal and committed friends who always have Oz’s back. The novel moves back and forth from the mysterious and very adult situations they face to the very normal teenage dramas surrounding peers and sports and teachers and growing up. This may be a very different world than our own, but winning a soccer match and going to the school dance are as important there as they are here. 


I found the plot to be interesting, the characters winsome, and the world-building fascinating. I think this is an excellent book for younger teens, but not too childish to appeal to grandfathers. At least, this grandfather could see his grandchildren enjoying it in a few years. Hopefully by then there will be more books in The Wonderworking Series for them to devour.


Our thanks to Zoe of Zooloos for our copy of The Dark Alchemist, provided in exchange for our review as part of this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


The Dark Alchemist, Rhys A. Jones

Book Review: The Dark Alchemist,The Wonderworking Series Book 1,  Rhys A. Jones

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.