Title: A Golden Fury
Author: Samantha Cohoe (Twitter and Instagram)
Publisher: Wednesday Books (Twitter and Instagram)
Published: October 13, 2020
Available at: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/
Welcome to A Golden Fury Blog Tour! I’m excited to be a part of this, as I’ve never participated in a blog tour before. (For those of you who may not know what a blog tour is, reviewers are selected to take part in sharing information about a book as part of its marketing campaign to help get the word out!) Thank you to Wednesday Books for the invitation and the advanced reader copy! All opinions about the book are my own.
Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY 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 madness.
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.
For Those Who Enjoyed: The Alchemist, Enola Holmes, Long May She Reign (Rhiannon Thomas), Cinder, Les Miserables, The Golden Compass, A Discovery of Witches, The Bone Season, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, Stalking Jack the Ripper
There are a lot of things this book has going for it: an ambitious female protagonist with an interest in science; the French Revolution; Oxford; alchemy; murder… so I can see where readers will really enjoy this one. I’m personally a huge proponent for a gritty 19th century British/French history, and that certainly delivered… Cohoe’s at her best when she’s describing the slums of London. The tale of uncovering the dangerous mystery behind the philosopher’s stone winding around the various locations I’ve researched or read about with such glee was an excellent surprise, as it really does capture the grime of these cities’ criminal underbellies. The upside to this book is definitely in its use of setting.
I will say, where it kind of fell apart for me was the lack of character development. I didn’t feel like I knew anyone well enough to really care where they went, or what they did, or whether they saved or betrayed one another at all. Thea comes from an abusive household, brought up by a narcissistic mother who refuses to give her credit for her alchemy talents, and despite how poorly she’s been treated all her life, Thea is still hellbent on saving her mother’s life when madness takes hold. Yet we get no sense of how her mother behaved before she went mad, or even if she deserves saving at all. There’s a similar twist toward the end of the novel that suffers from the same lack of weight. There’s just not enough backstory there to appreciate any of the characters’ motives.
In this plot, the philosopher’s stone chooses who creates it, and anyone who attempts it who isn’t “chosen” is deemed unworthy, driven mad, and eventually, killed. So the reader is led to believe that perhaps it’s the character’s virtue that makes them deserving of the stone. Yet when one of Thea’s sidekicks, (a devout Catholic who must stop on their journey to find a priest to absolve him), arguably the most virtuous character here, is also driven to madness, it leaves you to assume that Thea’s somehow gained the title of “most virtuous”. There’s something interesting that could have been said here about how she’s been raised on her mother’s cut throat ambition and selfishness, and she can rise above it, but it never quite says anything important in the end about who is most “deserving” of the stone. The moral of the story is that power corrupts absolutely, and something as big as a stone that grants you riches and immortality should have consequences for the maker. And each and every person who attempts to create the stone is corrupted in one way or another. I just don’t necessarily think it went far enough in terms of addressing that corruption. It could’ve been darker, it could’ve been more intense. It could’ve made a deep commentary on ambition and power and being careful what you wish for, and I just wanted more.
All in all, I didn’t feel connected to this story, which suffered from very surface level elements, but it’s definitely a decent debut novel, and there are plenty of things to be enjoyed here!
About the Author
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.
For more information or to set up an interview with the Samantha, contact:
Meghan Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-307-5556