A Golden Fury
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publication: October 13, 2020
Age Group: YA
Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), 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.
If you’d told me this was a debut before I began reading, I would say you were crazy! A Golden Fury is a very strong debut novel from Samantha Cohoe. This is a firmly upper-YA novel that carries the weight of it’s narrative and features superb writing! Immediately, the reader is introduced to our main character, Thea. It’s a bit trope-y, but Thea has worked in her famous mother’s shadow for a long time and is thrust into an odd situation after her mother suffers from a breakdown. Thea is sent to her father, who, of course, has no idea he is her father, and many things ensue!
While some new releases this year have very strongly relied on the YA tropes of old, I felt like this novel took a used trope and successfully built a narrative that I became wrapped up in, almost from the beginning. Thea is incredibly well-written and well-developed, even in the first few pages, I found myself wanting to know everything about her and the strange art of alchemy! She has quirks and nuances, which are revealed in ways that absolutely worked for me! My only quibble with Thea is that she put a lot of faith and trust in people, which may not have always been the best idea in this story. That’s a minor thing, though. Truly, I enjoyed Thea. I did notice in a few other reviews that others felt that some of the character traits weren’t quite suited to the narrative, but I think that may have been more of a deliberate action on the part of the author, given the time period. As a fan of historical fiction, which this is loosely historical fiction, I really liked that!
Certainly, the romance between Will and Thea is strained at times (that trust thing again), which became a bit grating at some point, but I don’t think it ultimately detracted from the narrative. I felt that their romance kept the plot going, but wasn’t overly intrusive. Being less of a romance fan, I also appreciated this fact. The setting was incredible and Thea accomplishes much with the hand she is dealt through the story. Being a longtime fan of spooky season and also a fan of anti-heroes, I felt this book was what I was looking for right now. This isn’t a typical YA novel and certainly not a typical YA debut. I enjoyed the gloomy setting, dire consequences, and potential failure that linger with the reader throughout the narrative.
Once again, this was a book that was just right for me! I would encourage any fans of historical fiction, YA fantasy, alchemy, or a non-traditional YA novel to read this! This is also perfect for fans of other Wednesday imprint authors like Adrienne Young, Emma Lord, Allison Saft, Romina Garber, among others.
My thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review! Thanks also to Wednesday Books and their amazing team for having me along on this blog tour!
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.