The first unusual thing about the story was,in the beginning there was the medieval story about an apple tree and the wood that would be used for burning witches. The scene was vivid and alive and I felt the terror and helplessness of young women that were accused and found guilty, even when they were faithful god fearing women. It brought home how hard life was for women back in the middle ages.
The second unusual aspect was that the main modern character was not an alchemist at the start of the book. Roland Hughes was a modern day man, a career college student that relied heavily on his girlfriend, Liz Parker, for financial support.
He was unhappy with the way things were going and could feel that something was wrong in the relationship. He did what I guess many people do, he found a reason to be unfaithful to Liz with a virtual stranger. Sure what he overheard sounded bad on the phone and so he acted bad in retaliation. Lila Thurston was a beautiful willing stranger, but a stranger none the less. I felt only distaste about her character. I do think of her again later in the book.
Just as you are getting to know Roland better; the author takes us back to the middle ages. There we meet several families. The Andano family we follow for many years which allows us to understand the characters growth, pain and history. There we meet Marcella and her mother and father. Trust me there is a lot to learn about that family. At the same point in time we meet Rene Hermes and his beloved Bella. Rene and Bella’s story is beautiful written. Each chapter bring you deep within these families and you get to really know them.
Once you are completely entwined in the past, you are taken back to the future where Roland has made some life altering decisions. He is finally on track. Perhaps.
Once Roland is cast back in to the middle ages we are introduced to another cast of characters. Sofia and Rene we already know in a different capacity. Once you know these characters it is wonderful to see them again in their new situations.
What this book is missing I can not tell you, there are secrets, mysteries, alchemy, time travel, love, bitterness, I would say it has it all. It is a wonderful book. These characters touched me in such a way, that I can’t explain without ruining the book.
Mark Giglio has done magic with his wording, pacing and most of all sheer joy of his story. I desperately want to read more of his books and see if his other books are as full flavored as this one. Alchemist Gift is one book that I suggest you pick up and read. You will not be sorry.
Just be prepared for a time twisting, witch burning and miracle laden joyride!