From USA Today best-selling author Gigi Pandian comes a modern tale of ancient intrigue. Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can't help but notice she's picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle - not to mention a master of French cuisine - and he needs Zoe's expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who's trying to put her old life behind her, isn't so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice. Includes recipes!
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I wanted to like this, I really did. The premise seemed so promising: an ageless alchemist who's been hiding in plain sight for centuries, a living gargoyle with an mysterious alchemical text and a murder that may or may not have something to do with any of the above. Unfortunately, Zoe Faust is without a doubt the MOST IRRITATING protaganist I've encountered in a long time (and I include Scarlet O'Hara in that list, so that tells you something!). People steamroller right over her at every turn and she just blithely goes on her merry way. The gargoyle appears in her life demanding, not asking, for her help with the mysterious book. Then becomes irate when it is not her first priority. Then, when the book is stolen from her home, berates her for going out for a walk (if it's such a priority, why didn't he safeguard it himself). And he uses her credit card, without her knowledge, to buy an espresso machine and subscription to Le Match (BTW when EVER has a subscription started arriving the next day???). Instead of telling him where to put his precious book, she tells him to ask next time if he wants to buy something and has a cup of tea. A teenage boy breaks into her home and eavesdrops on her & the gargoyle. He, in her presence, openly snoops through her shelves and cupboards. Then attempts to manipulate her into teaching him alchemy. Then RECORDS the gargoyle cooking, so he can prove the gargoyle is real. Then lets himself into her Airstream trailer "looking for a snack." And, instead of sending down the road with a flea in his ear, she bandages the arm he cut breaking in and has a cup of tea. For someone who has lived as long as she has, she is remarkably clueless. And allows far too many liberties as far as I'm concerned. How on earth has she managed to survive as long as she has? There's being agreeable and being a doormat. Zoe is a doormat. And she drinks a lot of tea. There is a LOT of discussion of vegan menus, vegan cooking, vegan food options. And I gather there are recipes at the end of the hardcopy (I haven't gotten to the end yet, so I don't know if they're included in the audiobook recording). There is some interesting information about alchemy, but not a lot. Oh, I forgot about the murder... Which isn't surprising because, by and large, Zoe does, too. A man is murdered on her porch and her house is burglarized at the exact same time. Does she take any precautions? No, she goes wandering alone through the woods and stops to have a cup of tea. She doesn't even deal with her lock situation for a couple days. I'm only sticking with it to the end, because I AM curious about that - but will be gritting my teeth every time Zoe allows people to just walk all over her. Maybe I'll start my own drinking game and have a drink whenever anyone mentions that she's vegan. And, when I'm done, I will likely delete it from my iPod.
I enjoyed Julia Motyka's narration very much. However, the story didn't hold my interest. The pace of the story moved so slowly that by the end I really didn't care who stole the book. If the characters had talked about one more meal or cup of tea...well, I was ready to scream with frustration! A very disappointing end to a promising beginning.