REVIEW: Trial of the Alchemist by Trevor Melanson

Trial of the Alchemist is Trevor Melanson’s dark murder mystery set in a gaslamp fantasy world drenched in alchemy. The novel opens in a packed courtroom, with Alchemist Ortez on trial for murder. Ortez is accused of poisoning Everett Day, the greatest mind and most successful entrepreneur in the mining town of Aurora. Also a generous and beloved philanthropist, Everett Day strikes me as a fantasy version of Andrew Carnegie.

Trial of the AlchemistTrial of the Alchemist alternates between third-person narration of the present-day trial and Alchemist Ortez’s first-person account of the events leading up to Everett Day’s untimely demise. Ortez recounts how he was initially called to Aurora to investigate a serious accident during the mining of cobrium, the key ore enabling Aurora’s recent advances in electricity and other modern technology.

The magical elements of Trial of the Alchemist are alchemical in nature. There are three kinds of alchemists presented in the book: psycho-alchemists such as Ortez, legal alchemists who assist with the integrity of the justice system, and research alchemists working toward the next alchemical discovery. During the trial, Ortez is forced to take an elixir that allows Alchemist Freya, a legal alchemist, to access Ortez’s mind in a lucid dreamlike state to ensure the veracity of his account.

Trevor Melanson’s background in journalism shines throughout the novel. Melanson’s straightforward writing style is the perfect vehicle for unraveling this complex murder mystery which is full of political intrigue and unexpected plot twists. The ending was a complete surprise for me and very well done by the author.

Trevor Melanson impressively blends fantasy and mystery genres in Trial of the Alchemist, delivering a story that will keep readers glued to the pages until the final twist is revealed.

I originally reviewed this novel as part of the Before We Go Blog team with SPFBO9.

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.