Book Review: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
People say “love never dies”…but love might be the death of Seraphina. Seraphina has been alive since the Middle Ages, when her boyfriend, Cyrus, managed to perfect a method of alchemy that lets them swap bodies with any human being. Sera ran away from Cyrus years ago, when she realized that what they were doing—taking the lives of innocent people—was wrong. Yet she doesn’t want to die, so she finds young people who are on the brink of death, and inhabits their bodies. Sera has just landed in the body of a girl named Kailey who was about to die in a car accident. For the first time, Sera falls in love with the life of the person she’s inhabiting. Sera also falls for the boy next door, Noah. And soon it’s clear the feelings are returned. But she can never kiss Noah, because for her to touch lips with a human would mean the human’s death. And she has even more to worry about: Cyrus is chasing her. If she stays in one place for long, she puts herself—and the people she’s grown to care for—in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?
If you could live forever with just one stipulation, would you? What if that stipulation was the death of a person, would you feel that it was worth it?
As an incarnate, one who has the ability to detach a soul from a body and then jump into said body, Seraphina has had to struggle with this decision for over 600 years. In the year 1349, after a brute attack by two drunks, 14 year old Sera is left bleeding to death in the arms of her crush and admirer, Cyrus, the apothecary’s son. By the miraculous powers of an alchemist potion, brewed by Cyrus himself, Sera awakes in the body of one of her would-be attackers. In that moment, Sera makes the decision to pledge herself to Cyrus by running away and living out their immortal lives together and in-love.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and you’ve got quite a different story. After 600+ years of taking human lives, (turns out – about every 10 years at the latest – an incarnate needs to hop into a new body) Sera is fed up. After taking many lives and succumbing to the sadistic, cruel and obsessive loving tendencies of Cyrus, Sera devises a plan to breakaway. Although she originally decides to truly die, in a bizarre twist of fate, Sera accidentally ends up in the dying body of a teenage girl. Breaking away from Cyrus and the “coven” (group of other incarnates) was the hardest thing Sera has had to do, that is, until now. In her new body, surrounded by a loving family, friends and a potential new romance, Sera struggles with ending her existence. After centuries of wishing she was dead, Sera’s now realizing that there’s so much to live for.
The Alchemy of Forever‘s synopsis had sold me instantly. Who hasn’t wished they could live forever? Or even, who hasn’t wished they could be someone else?
I loved Sera. Out of all the incarnates, she’s truly the most caring and thoughtful one of the bunch. The others could care less when it comes to body switching, a past time they do quite frequently even though it means taking the life of another. After witnessing the cruelness both the world and Cyrus has to offer, Sera has remained remarkably staunch. Although she at first appears fragile, deep down her will is incredibly strong.
The Alchemy of Forever is one of those books that sticks in your mind – days after you finish it. I’m literally still reeling from the shocking cliffhanger. Williams is a fabulous writer, able to weave a story full of originality and fill it with vivacious and vivid characters.