Study Guide

The Alchemyst Family

By Michael Scott


"You. Leave. My. Brother. Alone." Sophie Newman brought the broom down five times on Dee's back, once for every word. (3.53)

Go Sophie, go!

"We are still staying with Aunt Agnes in Pacific Heights," Josh added. "Aunt Agony."

"We can't just disappear. She'll be expecting us home for dinner," Sophie said. "If we are even five minutes late, she gets in a tizzy. Last week, when the trolley car broke down and we were an hour late, she'd already phoned our parents by the time we got there." Aunt Agnes was eighty-four, and although she drove the twins to distraction with her constant fussing, they were very fond of her. (5.9)

True, Agnes is a bit of a helicopter-aunt, but we can tell the twins really care for her, and she for them. And why shouldn't they? It's not like they have a super stable family life. They have to take what they can get.

[Josh] reached over and squeezed her hand; she squeezed tightly in return. As with so much of the communication between them, there was no need for words. With their parents away so much, Sophie and Josh had learned from a very early age that they could only really depend on themselves […] they knew that whatever happened, they would always have each other." (13.4)

Ne-Yo says it best: "I'm a movement by myself, But I'm a force when we're together." That's Sophie and Josh in a Nutshell. Sure, they're great on their own, but when Sophie and Josh stick together, they're at their most powerful because they have each other's back. Just imagine how strong they'll be when Josh is finally Awakened.

Sophie walked to the window, stood behind her brother and put her arm on his shoulder. She was older than he was by twenty-eight seconds—less than half a minute, Josh always reminded her—but with their mother and father away so much, she had assumed the role of a much older sister. Although he was already a good two inches taller than she was, he would always be her baby brother. (19.11)

This passage reminds us that what might seem like an insignificant detail—the fact that Sophie is just half a minute older—makes all the difference in terms of the twins' fates. Sophie gets Awakened first because she's older, and that changes her relationship with her twin forever.

Sophie took her brother's hand in hers. "From the moment we were born, we've done everything together," she said, her voice low and serious. "And with Mom and Dad away so much, it's really always been just you and me. You always looked after me, I've always looked out for you. I'm not going to allow you to go through this […] process by yourself. We'll do this—just like we've done everything else—together." (24.15)

Where are the parents in this novel? Sophie and Josh keep on repeating that they have to rely on themselves because their parents are away so much of the time. Do you get the sense that their parents are careless? They seem more like the kids than their own children do.

"When did you decide to kill your sisters?" He [Dee] asked casually... Bastet glared at her niece.

"Is it true? Are Macha and the Badb dead?"

"Yes." The Morrigan glared at Dee. "But I did not kill them. They died willingly, and live inside me still." (32.19-28)

Yikes. The Morrigan sure is a piece of work. We're not quite sure what happened to her sisters, but we know that relationship couldn't have been strong or smooth sailing. Just compare it to the strong, unshakeable bond between Sophie and Josh.

Once again, he felt apart from his twin: truly apart. They were fraternal twins, and therefore not genetically identical. They didn't share those feelings that identical twins often spoke about—feeling pain when the other twin was hurt, knowing when they were in trouble—but right now he could feel his sister's distress. He only wished there was something he could do to ease her pain. (33.72)

That's how close these two twins are. Even when Josh feels far away from his twin, both physically and mentally, now that she has been Awakened, he still wants to protect her from pain and suffering. That's some serious brotherly love right there.

"And have you a grandmother?"

"My Nana, yes, my father's mother. I usually call her on Fridays," she added, realizing with a guilty start that today was Friday and that Nana Newman would be expecting a call.

"Every Friday," the Witch of Endor said significantly, and looked at Scatty again, but the Warrior deliberately turned away and concentrated on an ornate glass paperweight. (36.21-23)

The Witch of Endor is asking a rather sneaky, double-edged question. On one hand, she is interrogating Sophie about whether she calls her grandmother (which makes Sophie feel guilty because she loves her grandmother very much and has not called), and on the other hand, she is trying to make Scatty feel guilty for not calling her own grandmother (the Witch, herself). She's one tough cookie.

Josh knew deep down that he had lost his twin, the constant in his life, the one person he could always count on... Even when Sophie's newly Awakened senses were making her sick, he was jealous of her abilities. (37.27)

Ah, so Josh and Sophie's relationship isn't perfect after all. Josh feels jealous of his sister's powers, but instead of turning against Josh, we just feel all the more sympathetic toward him. Come on, how would you feel if your sister were suddenly way more powerful than you? Frankly, we're just worried his loneliness and jealousy will drive him to do something, well, stupid. Here's to hoping that doesn't happen.

"Of course I did! You are my brother. I'll never abandon you." Then, catching his hand, wrapping her fingers around his, she pulled him into the glass. (39.68)

Phew. Sophie saves the day—after Josh has saved her life. We were worried for a second that Dee would catch up to Josh and bring him over to the dark side, but Sophie's deep sibling love prevents that awful outcome.