Book Review: “Madly” by Amy Alward

Madly_Amy Alward_Full

The world of Madly is a lot like our own: teens spend a lot of time on their phones and a lot of money trying to emulate the fashion of the royal family. There’s just one difference: magic is real, and for Samantha Kemi, that means entering the centuries-old family business of alchemy. And trust me, Madly shows us just how fun potion-making can be when you’re not worried Professor Snape is breathing down your neck.

The Kemi family used to be the official potion-makers for the royal family, until ZoroAster Corp. started manufacturing synthetic potions ingredients and cheated their way into the top spot. Now, the Kemi family has a chance to win back the position, but under bleak circumstances: Princess Evelyn’s life has been endangered by a love potion gone wrong, and a Royal Hunt has been called for all eligible alchemists in the kingdom. But if Samantha wants to win, she’ll not only have to overcome her family’s stubbornness and the king’s wicked sister Emilia, but also Zain Aster, the really, really good looking heir to ZoroAster Corp.

This book is gripping right from the start, as Alward presents us with a very original blend of old-school fairy tale magic in a contemporary setting. I absolutely loved how…cool she makes potions, and it’s so neat to read about Samantha’s knack for making them. Madly soon becomes an adventurous scavenger hunt, as Samantha and her finder, Kirsty, search the globe for the ingredients they’ll need to concoct an antidote for Princess Evelyn. Believe me, it’s pure fun, if predictable in a few places.

Another aspect of this book I loved was Samantha’s relationship with her friends, both finder Kirsty and BFF Anita (also from an alchemist family who refuses to use synthetic ingredients). I love how unique they all are, and yet how each of their different personalities and abilities fuel Samantha’s search. Most of the book is comprised of these three girls’ interactions with each other, and what can I say – there’s nothing that gets me faster in a novel than the bonds of lady friendship, especially when there’s magic involved. Who needs boys, anyway?

That being said, there is also a romantic element to the story! For some readers this is more important than others. I’m not always a fan of romance in fantasy YA novels, just because sometimes it feels like it’s thrust in there so that the publisher can tick off a box to appeal to teenage girls, and takes away from more exciting dragon slaying and whatnot. But even I couldn’t object to Zain Aster! His presence is far from the main conflict in the book, and when he is around, he mostly just adds to the fun. I highly recommend giving Madly a try!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.