While it’s action-packed, The Alchemy of Stone is most properly understood as a character study. Mournful and romantic, Mattie is the mechanical, wind-up doll so many gothy teenage girls imagine themselves to be. And her vulnerability haunts many adult women too: We may not have whalebone corsets embedded in our skin, but we all struggle to be perceived as something more than pretty little tools. It’s that struggle that makes Mattie such a vivid, memorable, and ultimately human character.
A book you won’t want to put down even for a minute. Minor spoilers in the review section.