Series: Potion, Book One
Published: 2nd July 2015
Number of Pages: 368
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: Violence, Swearing
Author's Site: Amy Alward
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.
Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? And just how close is she willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing enemy, in the meantime?
Just to add to the pressure, this quest is all over social media. And the world news.
No big deal then.
'Despite both of them knowing how bad things are with the business, neither will let me do anything other than be an apprentice to my grandad.
Because when you have the Kemi gift, you have to use it.'
In Samantha Kemi's world, you’re either ordinary or Talented – with or without magic. The Kemis are not Talented, but they were once prosperous – as master alchemists and potion makers, they were respected by everyone, the chosen ones of the Royal family.
But now things have changed – synth potions are huge and natural alchemists are no longer needed.
Until the Princess Evelyn mixes a natural love potion to give to her crush Zain Aster (the relative of the first synthetic potion maker and heir to the mega-wealthy ZoroAster Corp company) – and accidentally drinks the potion herself. And then falls in love. With herself.
With the magic of Nova unbalanced, a Wilde Hunt is called – all alchemists, both natural and synth, are called to find a cure. A race that will lead them all over, searching for ingredients and battling to win – both the Royal's approval and a magical prize.
But for Sam, it's a way to prove that the Kemis' way of potion-making is best and to restore her family's name.
But with the gorgeous Zain also competing and the world watching their every move, can Sam pull it off? Can she save the princess, her land and her family?
I began reading The Potion Diaries after finding out Amy Alward would be at YALC. And was instantly enchanted. I've already read the brilliant The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy - and whilst The Potion Diaries was seriously different it was equally amazing. I've not read anything quite so much fun for ages – I was barely two pages in before I fell totally in love. This is the kind of book I love to read! Magical adventures mixed up with an alternate modern reality with loads of friendship and family and romantic love added in too.
Sam was awesome – clever, funny, brave, a bit quirky and totally devoted to her family. And she was also just so real – I mean, her fear of being anonymous, of never doing anything that makes an impact, isn't that something all teenagers feel? Sure, her problems are amplified by being non-magical in a magical world, of trying to live up to a family name long forgotten, but it was so real anyway. I loved how badass and clever Sam was and I can't wait to see more of her in the second Potion Diaries book!
Zain was totally not what I was expecting when we were first introduced to him – actually, he tested my expectations a few times. But I loved it when he was being all sweet and shy and kinda totally adorable – that thing with the coffee? Heart-meltingly sweet! But yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing more of Zain.
As for our supporting cast, Kirsty was so butt-kickingly amazing! Being a Finder sounds awesome and I loved Kirsty's whip-sharp sense of humour. Eve was obviously very clever, but what we saw of her... Well, we saw her in love with her reflection. So... But I look forward to seeing more of the non-magically-obsessively-in-love, not-so-crazy-and-out-of-control Evelyn.
And I loved Sam's crazy family – they were brilliant! And really made the story for me: I loved the kookiness of them all, loved how much they loved each other. Sam's little sister was so brave and adorable, her parents a little frazzled but so loving, her grandfather quiet and a little grumpy with so many secrets – I can't wait until he reveals more of them! But I loved the angle the family thing lent to the story – and the friends too. Anita and Arjun, Sam's friends, were brilliant – Anita was such a good friend, always there to help Sam, no matter what. Loved it all.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of split POVs – and I loved reading from both Sam and Eve's perspectives; I especially enjoyed seeing Evelyn going from a confident princess with a crush to a magic-crazed, obsessive, dangerously in love super-witch. Why? Because it was fascinating. And kind of terrifying.
And then the plot... it was so fast-paced and exciting! A quest – a real quest! – but broadcast over social media! It was just so cool! And the way Sam was always moving, always thinking, always getting that next ingredient... Loved it. I also loved the way Sam and Zain's relationship developed – it felt really natural and sweet, even though the Kemis and Asters were basically sworn enemies at the time (long story - read The Potion Diaries and find out all about it).
This world – God, I wanna live here! Action, adventure, magic, potions, social media... It literally sounds like my dream world. I mean, can you imagine going by mirror to see a unicorn and posting about it on Twitter? That would literally be the coolest thing ever. And all the alchemy, the various mythologies around the world, the Talenteds and ordinary people and then the awesome Kemi potion brewing skill... I was blown away by the depth of this world – and also by how seamlessly I just kind of... fit in. You know? The mythology was so easy to pick up and it was so much fun to explore the world alongside Sam. Oh, and also the Royal family! Can you imagine if the Queen had magic? How cool would that be!
Am I the only one with this dream? Perhaps...
So yes, I had a lot of fun reading The Potion Diaries. It was such an awesome, exciting, easy and enjoyable read – I was so sad to leave the world after I put the book down! I have to wait until July for book two people! How am I meant to live without my magical social media hit? I just don't know anymore!
Seriously though, if you love urban fantasies that are more fun than they are angst-ridden, with a mythology that explores the whole world and also takes elements from all over our world, The Potion Diaries is definitely for you.
Ok, I can't resist it anymore. I'm gonna do the potion ingredients of The Potion Diaries. How can I not, guy? Here goes...
1 cup of coffee beans for the adrenaline of adventure
1 strand of hair from a unicorn's tail for magic
5 drops of your blood for the sense of family
2 rose petals for romance
1 slither of metal from a broken blade for a successful quest
The crushed powder of one dried, poisonous scorpion for danger
3 spoonfuls of chocolate for pure awesomeness
Allow to simmer, strain and then enjoy.
Ok, if you guys can think of something better tell me – I think this isn't my best work! But there is a lot of adventures, magic, family, romance, quests and awesomeness in The Potion Diaries, so... Yeah, I stand by my potion. Until I or one of you lovely people think of something better.
An alchemist, I clearly am not…
4¼ Out of 5
4¼ Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
The Lynburn Legacy Series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Wells & Wong by Robin Stevens
The Curse Workers by Holly Black
Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Lunar Chronicles by Melissa Meyer
Half Bad Series by Sally Green