Ash Woods thinks it’s all over when he’s caught studying and learning alchemy illegally by Ramsay Thorne. But Ramsay instead turns to blackmail: Ash helps her find a legendary book and she won’t turn him in to the police. As the pair continue working together, feelings develop, danger arises, and their respective pasts reemerge causing them to reevaluate what they’re willing to do in order to accomplish their goals.

One of the most important elements of a fantasy story is the world-building and the world-building in this one is a lot to take in at times but never feels too overwhelming. It’s easy to follow along and understand exactly how the world, the hierarchy, and the magic works.

The characters are impulsive, often making rash decisions based of heightened emotions, and it can get frustrating at times, but that’s exactly how they should be! They are teenagers living in a world that it becomes increasingly clear is dangerous for them to live in and they react exactly as I’d expect teenagers to react. There are also moments where I wanted to scream “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER” at them and that is probably the thing that made them the most real—because how many teenagers do you know who are constantly open and honest about their feelings?

As I’ve come to expect from Kacen’s writing, there is diverse cast of characters and even the evilest among them won’t stoop so low as to misgender someone. Murder? Sure. Misgendering? Absolutely the fuck not. Even in a made up fantasy world, that’s something that is one of the most fantastical elements of the story because our world is so not like that. It makes the escape that I hope for in reading fiction (even when surrounded by dangerous situations) that much sweeter.

From the privileges prevalent in academia to overly religious organizations trying to push their ideals on to any and everyone, Kacen seamlessly incorporates elements from the real world into their story that allows the fantasy to feel completed grounded.

INFINITY ALCHEMIST is Kacen Callender’s young adult fantasy debut and is available now. Pick it up here before the sequel comes out next year!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2024 Book Recommendations."