by Michael Scott
Engaging, Sympathetic, Humorous
One of the best parts about reading The Alchemyst is that we get adventure, excitement, and great characters all wrapped up in a super friendly tone. We get to take part on the journey as if we're one of the gang because the tone is so engaging, sympathetic, and humorous—all the things you'd want in a friend telling you a story.
We are invited into the action through engaging storytelling. And we are totally RSVP'ing. Even the frequent history lessons we get—on the origins of the Elders and the Flamels' past—are fascinating, because they're written in such an engaging way.
Just check out the moment when Dee meets a gargoyle on the top of Notre Dame (20.12). This is the moment when we find out the story of the Elder Race, and it could just as easily have been a dry, boring history lecture. Instead, we get to be a fly on the wall of the most impressive piece of architecture in France, spying on Dee's own memories. That's pure fun.
Poor Josh and Sophie
We really feel for Josh and Sophie, don't we? They're normal teens thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and our hearts go out to each of them individually as they find themselves separated in ways they never imagined. Still, they're bound by deep family bond and love. Despite their extraordinary circumstances, the sympathetic tone with which their experiences are described helps us relate to these twins as, well, pretty typical teens. And that sympathy has us rooting for the twins no matter what danger they encounter.
One of our favorite parts of the book occurs when things look pretty bad for Flamel and the twins. Josh feels powerless to help his sister, who's in trouble, but he also feels frustrated because he lacks the power to do anything about it. As the narrator puts it, "What could he do against this powerful magician? He wasn't like his twin: he had no powers. But that didn't mean he was useless" (39.7).
Admit it—you totally let out a cheer when Josh ran that Hummer right into the fountain. He's been struggling with his sister's new powers, and his own inabilities. Nevertheless, he manages to save the day, and we couldn't be happier for him.
With a story as urgent as this one—time is running out for Nicholas Flamel and his wife, after all, and the twins' lives are in danger—you might not expect a laugh or two. Yet, every dark turn this story takes is punctuated by a bit of wry humor, and this constant comic relief keeps us smiling as we turn the page.
More often than not, chapters end with a magic joke—like when Scatty ominously says that, if she were Sophie and Josh, she probably would choose to skip Hekate's dinner. She scares the twins silly until they realize it's because their vampire comrade is a vegetarian. Of course she wouldn't eat meat. That lighthearted humor reminds us that no matter how bad things seem, we're in for a fun adventure.