By Anne Lyle
Angry Robot, $7.99, 448 pages

Mal Catlyn is down on his luck: on his own since his older brother abandoned him and his twin brother, Sandy, Mal is in charge of their keep. Short of funds and desperate, Mal reluctantly accepts a position as the bodyguard of the ambassador of the Skraylings, a mystical people from the New World. Little does Mal know that both their fates have long been entangled with the strangers and that soon he will have to fight for both his life and his soul.  The Alchemist of Souls is an outstanding debut by author Anne Lyle. The book is set during the reign of Elizabeth I and she vividly creates a sense of that time and place in the book and weaves historical figures in with the fictional ones. Mal is a great main character – smart, resourceful and slow to judge.  The other characters in the book, Kiiren the Skrayling ambassador, and Coby a young girl in hiding he befriends, are equally well-written. The plot unfolds at a quick pace that keeps the reader engaged throughout. This book is a fascinating blend of historical fiction and fantasy and will be enjoyed by fans of both genres.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern