Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe. This tour is being hosted by Wednesday Books.
A Golden Fury: A Novel
By Samantha Cohoe
Published by Wednesday Books
**On Sale October, 2020**
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250220400| Ebook ISBN: 9781250220417
Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY
(Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the
people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and
Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story
of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she
toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.
Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of
them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include
immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s
riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent
While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.
Buy link for A GOLDEN FURY: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/
“A Golden Fury is beguiling and unpredictable. Cohoe weaves an international adventure set against a rich historical backdrop, and alchemist Thea faces adversaries both human and magical with wit and grit. A compelling debut from a writer to watch.” -Hannah Capin, author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club
“Alchemists used many methods to hide their secrets, but Cohoe has deciphered their riddles — and uncovered a truth far darker and more complex than a miraculous rock. She lures you in with a promise of gold, then delivers something far more valuable: an intricate tale of ambition and sacrifice, loyalty and betrayal, the quest for knowledge and the wisdom to use it correctly.” -Marie Brennan, author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent
“I adore Thea – her fierce ambition, her intelligence, and the warmth she so desperately wants to share with someone worthy. This is an alchemical wonder of a book. It takes all the elements of a good story – mystery, magic, devastating stakes, compelling relationships and impossible choices – and weaves them into pure gold.” -Catherine Egan, author of Julia Unbound
“A Golden Fury invites you into a world of intrigue, magic and ambition. Set against the backdrop of the French revolution, it follows a talented, driven heroine, raised by her famous and overbearing mother to pursue alchemy’s ultimate dream—the Philosopher’s Stone—in a time when women had little rights of their own. Cohoe’s prose is flush with clever dialogue and flawed-yet-sympathetic characters, so realistic they leap off the page. First loves, family secrets and shocking betrayals abound as our heroine pits her intellect against a curse of madness in this impossible-to-put down debut.” -Ellen Goodlett, author of Rule
“Full of rich historical detail, clever world-building, and tumultuous relationships, A Golden Fury transformed me. Cohoe’s debut proves we are in the hands of a deft and dangerous creator. I sat up half the night thinking about it, and the other half longing to see her next book.” -Tracy Townsend, author of Thieves of Fate series
“I fell for this thrilling tale of madness and murder, alchemy and obsession— and the fiercely determined Theosebeia Hope who will stop at nothing to get her heart’s desire. I could not turn the pages fast enough!” -Gita Trelease, author of Enchantee
*A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020*
“Sharply written with a crackling, compassionately determined heroine, A Golden Fury is a vivid ride through eighteenth century Europe with darkness and dread creeping at its corners. Utterly enchanting.”
– Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints
“An engaging concoction of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.” – Booklist
“Cohoe situates the supernatural among the historical, referencing the French Revolution and the Enlightenment while…keeping a sense of urgency as Thea struggles with the magical, demonic pull of the Stone.”
– Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The attention to detail in the story is excellent. Thea herself is a confident lead with a strong voice. A solid fantasy to
flesh out the world of alchemy that most readers know only from ‘Harry Potter.'” – School Library Journal
“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.”
– Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician
Historical fiction is always hit or miss for me. But I really enjoyed this one, even more than I thought I would. I believe it’s a standalone based off the ending, so that was a bonus with so many series out there right now.
Thea is an alchemist living with her mom in France. She’s been learning everything from her mom, but she was pushed away recently on their big test. They are trying to make the Philosopher’s Stone. No one has ever been able to do it, but it’s rumored to heal illnesses and change any metal to gold. The first hurtle they crossed was making the White Elixir, but they hadn’t gotten further. After Thea’s mom attacks her, Thea sees that her mom was successful. At least party, but not fully. She went mad trying. Thea fleas to Oxford to the father that didn’t even know she was alive. Thea read the warning, but she was willing to try to create the stone to hopefully save her mom. There is a curse and only one person will be able to create the stone. Everyone else goes mad trying.
Beware the Alchemist’s Curse.
Things don’t go well with Thea’s dad after one of the scientists went mad. A young man working to help out ended up killing him and Thea’s dad didn’t believe it wasn’t murder. So Thea and Dominic go to London to find her friend, Will. When she finds him, Thea is shocked to see that Will is dying. She’s even more determined to make the stone. She gets played by the men in her life and Thea has to fight hard to fix everyone. She’s determined to make the stone to heal, but also for the honor of being the first and only person to succeed.
The book has some heavy topics. Some warnings are talk of suicide, blood/cuts/burns, and verbal parental abuse. There is some captivity and a hint at sexual assault. Thea’s mom also talks about using men and how they are never loyal or good.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to Wednesday Books for my review link to Netgalley.
My mother was screaming at the Comte. Again.
I slammed the front doors behind me and walked down the carriageway, under the dappled shade of the poplars that lined it. A hundred paces away, I still heard her, though at least I could no longer hear the Comte’s frantic endearments and low, rapid pleading. He should know by now that wasn’t the way. Perhaps I should tell him. Adrien was the first of my mother’s patrons I had ever liked, and I did not want to leave Normandy just as spring was break- ing. Just as we were beginning to make progress.
Though perhaps we were not. Mother would not be screaming at the Comte if the work were going well. She would not take the time. Alchemy was a demanding science, even if some scoffed and called it charlatanry or magic. It required total concentration. If the work were going well, the Comte would scarcely exist to her, nor would I, now that she would not let me be of use. The com- position must have broken again. This was about when it had, last round. I could not be certain, since she had taken away my key to the laboratory. She could hardly have devised a worse insult than that if she had tried, and lately she did seem to be trying. The laboratory was mine as much as it was hers. If she did succeed in producing the White Elixir—which turned all metals into silver—then it was only because of my help. She had found Jābir’s text languishing in a Spanish monastery, but it had been I who translated it when her Arabic wasn’t nearly up to the job. I had labored for months over the calcinary furnace to make the philosophic mercury the text took as its starting point. I had the scars on my hands and arms to prove it. And now that success might be close, she wished to shut me out and deny my part, and claim it for herself alone.
But if she was acting ill and cross, it meant she had failed. A low, smug hum of satisfaction warmed me. I didn’t want the work to fail, but I didn’t want her to succeed without me, either.
A distant smashing sound rang out from the chateau. My mother shattering something against the wall, no doubt.
I sighed and shifted my letter box to the crook of my other arm.
I knew what this meant. Another move. Another man. The Comte had lasted longer than the rest. Over two years, long enough that I had begun to hope I would not have to do it all again. I hated the uncertainty of those first weeks, before I knew what was expected of me, whether Mother’s new patron had a temper and what might set it off, whether he liked children to speak or be silent. Though I was no longer a child, and that might bring its own problems. A chill passed over me, despite the warm afternoon sunshine. God only knew what the next one would be like. My mother had already run through so many of them. And with the recent changes in France, there were fewer rich men than ever looking to give patronage to an expensive alchemist, even one as beautiful and famous as Marguerite Hope.
I veered off the carriageway, into the soft spring grass, dotted here and there with the first of the lavender anemones. I sat by the stream, under the plum tree.
There was no screaming here, no pleading, no signs that my life was about to change for the worse. I inhaled the soft, sweet scent of plum blossoms and opened my letter box. If this was to be my last spring in Normandy, I wanted to re- member it like this. Springtime in Normandy was soft and sweet, sun shining brightly and so many things blossoming that the very air was perfumed with promise. Everything was coming extravagantly to life, bursting out of the dead ground and bare trees with so much energy other impossible things seemed likely, too. I had always been hopeful in Normandy when it was spring. Especially last spring, when Will was still here. When we sat under this very tree, drank both bottles of champagne he had stolen from the cellars, and spun tales of everything we could achieve.
I took out his last letter, dated two months ago.
This is my address now—as you see I’ve left Prussia. It turns out that everything they say about the Prussians is quite true. I’ve never met a more unbending man than my patron there. One day past the appointed date and he tried to throw me in prison for breach of contract! He thinks alchemy can be held to the same strict schedule as his serfs.
Laws against false alchemists were very harsh in Germany, as Will knew full well when he sought patronage there. I had begged him to go somewhere else, though he had few enough choices. He was my mother’s apprentice, with no achievements of his own to make his reputation. His training had been cut abruptly short when Mother found us together under this plum tree, watching the sun- rise with clasped hands and two empty bottles of champagne. She’d seen to it that Will was gone by noon. It was no use telling her that all we’d done was talk through the night, or that the one kiss we’d shared had been our first, and had gone no further. He had behaved with perfect respect for me, but she wouldn’t believe it. My mother had imagined a whole path laid before my feet in that moment, and scorched it from the earth with Greek fire.
I turned to the next page.
I blame myself, of course, Bee, for not heeding your advice. I can picture your face now, wondering what I expected. It would almost be worth all the trouble I’ve caused myself if I could come to you and see your expression. You must be the only woman in the world who is never lovelier than when you’ve been proven right.
The keen thrill of pleasure those words had brought me when I first read them had faded now, and left me feeling uncertain. Should I write back knowingly, teasing him for his recklessness? I had tried this, and was sure I sounded like a scold no matter what he said about my loveliness when proven right. I took out my latest draft, which struck a more sincere tone. I read the lines over, saying how I worried for him, how I missed him. I crumpled it in my hand halfway through. Too much emotion. It didn’t do to show such dependence on a man. My mother had shown me that. I didn’t wish to emulate her in everything, but I would be a fool to deny her skill at winning masculine devotion. I tried again.
I am sitting under the plum tree where we had our last picnic. I know how you feel about nostalgia, but I hope you will forgive me this one instance. I fear this will be our last spring in Normandy—perhaps even in France. Many of my mother’s friends have left already, and though you may well condemn
them as reactionaries, the fact remains that there are very few good Republicans with the ready cash to pay for our pursuits.
I sighed again and crumpled the page. Somehow I could never seem to write to him about the Revolution without a touch of irony creeping in. I didn’t want that. Will had put his hopes for a better world in the new order, and even though I was less hopeful than he, I loved him for it. At least he wanted a better world. Most alchemists simply wanted better metals.
I tried to imagine he was here. It wouldn’t be difficult then. He was so good at setting me at ease. His admiration was as intoxicating as wine, but unlike wine it sharpened my wits instead of dulling them. I was never cleverer than when Will was there to laugh with me.
My chest constricted at the memory of Will’s laugh. I didn’t know anyone who laughed like him. The Parisian aristocrats I had known all had so much consciousness of the sound they made when they did it. The Comte wasn’t like them, but he was a serious man and laughed rarely. My mother didn’t laugh at all.
But Will. He laughed like it came from the loud, bursting core of him. Like he couldn’t have kept it in if he wanted to, and why would he want to? And when he was done laughing, he would look at me like no one else ever had. Like he saw only me, not as an accessory to my mother, but as myself. And not as an odd girl whose sharp edges would need to be softened. Will liked the edges. The sharper they cut, the more they delighted him.
I threw my letters into the letter box and snapped it shut. I looked around for somewhere to hide the box, and noticed too late that one of my crumpled drafts had blown toward the stream. My mother appeared on the hill above me, the late afternoon sun lighting up her golden hair like an unearned halo. She walked down the hill with measured steps and stopped a few yards above me, I assumed because she wished to enjoy the experience of being taller than me again for a few moments. Her eye moved to the crumpled paper. I ran to it and stuffed it into my pocket before she could take it, though my haste in hiding the failed letter told her all I didn’t wish her to know.
“Oh dear,” said my mother. “I do hope you haven’t been wasting your afternoon trying to find the right words to say to that boy.”
My mother was tolerant of my letter writing these days, perhaps because she was confident I would never see Will again. She had smiled when she heard of Will’s contract in Prussia. He won’t find it so easy to charm his way past the Prussian alchemy laws. In Germany, one must deliver results, not pretty smiles, or end in prison.
“I wouldn’t have an afternoon to waste if you would let me into the laboratory,” I said.
“Don’t be pitiful, Thea,” said my mother. “Surely you can think of something worthwhile to do when I don’t happen to need your assistance.”
I clenched my teeth so tight that my jaw ached. Shut- ting me out of the laboratory, our laboratory, was the greatest injustice she had ever committed against me. Worse than all the moving about, worse than sending Will away, worse than any insult she could think to level at me. Before she had done that, I believed we were together in alchemy at least, even if nothing else. That she had raised and trained me not simply to be of use to her, but to be her partner. Her equal, one day. Throwing me out of the lab- oratory just when we might achieve what we had worked for told me that Will was right. She would never let me claim credit for my part of the work. She would never accept me as an alchemist in my own right.
And yet she described it as though she had simply let me off my chores. As if I were no more necessary than a servant. There was no point in arguing with her, but even so I could not let it stand.
“I am not your assistant,” I said.
“Oh?” she asked. “Do you have news, then? Have you found a patron on your own merits? Do you intend to strike out on your own?”
“Perhaps I will,” I said, my face growing hot. “Perhaps I will stay here when you are finally finished tormenting the poor Comte.”
My mother had a perfect, deceptively sweet beauty: golden blond and blue-eyed with a round, doll-like face. It made the venom that sometimes twisted her expression hard to quite believe in. Many men simply didn’t. They preferred to ignore the evidence of their minds for the evidence of their senses. I, of course, knew her better than they did. I tensed, preparing.
But instead of lashing out, my mother turned aside, a hand to her chest. A tremor passed over her; she bowed her head against it.
Mother had been strangely unwell for weeks. At first I responded to her illness as she had taught me to, with distaste and disapproval, as though falling sick were an ill-considered pastime of those with insufficient moral fortitude. But if she noticed how unpleasant it was to receive so little sympathy when unwell, she did not show it. She had locked herself away in the laboratory every day until late at night, ignoring my silence as much as she ignored the Comte’s pleas that she rest. I had not thought much of it until this moment. Any pain great enough to turn her from chastising me for thinking I could do alchemy with- out her must be serious indeed.
“Mother?” I asked.
“You will go where I tell you.” Her voice was low and breathless, almost a gasp. “For now, that is to dinner. Wear the green taffeta.”
“The robe à la française?” I asked, perplexed. I hadn’t worn that dress since before the Estates General met. Its style was the hallmark of the ancien régime: wide panniered hips, structured bodice, and elaborate flounces. “But it’s out of fashion.”
“So is our guest,” said my mother.
She went up the hill again, then turned back to me at the top.
“Thea,” she said, all the sharpness gone from her voice. “I know you do not believe it any longer, but everything I do is for you.”
It was the sort of thing she always said. Before this year, I had always believed it, more or less. At least, everything she did was for the both of us. She had considered me an extension of herself, so that doing things for me was no different than doing them for herself. Why else take so much care to train me, to see to it that I had the tutors I needed to learn every language necessary—more even than she knew? To take me with her in all her travels to seek out manuscripts? She was an impatient teacher at times, but a good one. A thorough one. And in turn I was a good student. The best.
Until we were close to our goal. Then, suddenly, I was a rival. And my mother did not tolerate rivals.
“You are right, Mother,” I said. “I don’t believe that any longer.”
Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.
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