by Michael Scott
(2) Sea Level
Despite the weird spelling of the title, The Alchemyst is a pretty smooth read. It takes place in present-day San Francisco, so we're used to the way characters talk to each other, and don't have to look up what things like "iPod" or "Bluetooth" mean. Sure, the characters from mythology have some pretty funky names—Hekate, Bastet, and the Morrigan among them—but they are usually accompanied by handy explanations and pronunciations (Hekate is pronounced "HEH-ca-tay") which help us keep it all straight.
Plus, because all the characters are based on real legends, you can always find out more information about them by looking them up for yourself (and Shmoop is here to help; check out our "Best of the Web" for mythology links). The hardest part about reading the book might be all the new information we get about the magical world. Once you've left behind "the safe and mundane world you once knew […] Nothing is as it seems" (7.33).