Release-Day Review: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe // VBC Review

A Golden Fury
Samantha Cohoe
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 (Wednesday Books)
Purchase at: Amazon or Bookshop
Review Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

All Thea Hope has known is life as an alchemist learning under her famous mother, moving between one patron and another as they work towards creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. When it seems like they’ve cracked the code, Thea’s mother inexplicably begins distancing herself and closing Thea off from her work. When her mother attacks Thea in a blind rage and ruins the Stone in its final steps of creation, Thea combs through her mother’s notes and finds a mysterious curse befalls alchemists who take up the mantle of the Stone causing madness.

Now, sent to live with her estranged father, Thea discovers that her mother was far from the only alchemist looking to create the Stone. When no one seems to heed her warning about the curse, Thea goes on a run looking for a cure, but she may end up losing herself in the end.

In Samantha Cohoe’s debut, we are given a strong, intelligent heroine whose ambition is to follow in her parents’ footsteps by becoming an alchemist. What I mainly loved about this is the fact that Thea’s ambition for alchemy is not balked at, it’s openly encouraged. The idea that she has a dream and desire that doesn’t involve being a wife and/or mother isn’t seen as outside of the norm. I just wish we had gotten more of a sense of the relationship between Thea and her mother which wasn’t easy as her mother is a very driven woman herself, but the fact that she did take Thea under her wing speaks volumes. Unfortunately when the story starts Thea’s mother is already well on her way to being cursed by the Stone and already not acting completely herself. All information gathered is from Thea’s own ruminations and not experienced through character’s actions which I think takes away the emotional impact.

I further enjoyed the idea of this young woman, despite the opportunities given to practice alchemy, is also rather naive when it comes to interacting with people. When she leaves her mother in France and goes to her father at Oxford, Thea’s eyes are opened wide. Learning the lengths people will go to obtain wealth and power and also learning about trust and loyalty. I loved seeing Thea come into her own during her journeys. It adds to her strength of character. But it’s another thing I didn’t think the story went far enough to elaborate upon. There wasn’t enough time taken to establish the relationships built, therefore, when things happen, as a reader, I didn’t feel the emotional connection like I wanted to.

The story itself is faced-paced and doesn’t really slow down, which makes this a quick and engaging read. However, I wish more time could have been spent building up those characters surrounding Thea, those that inform her life and her action.  

As it stands I feel like the story almost goes too far in prioritizing action over substance. I’m hoping, however, that this will not be the last time we see Thea Hope in which case I could easily forgive my gripes if characterization is built up across another book. Overall, if you’re looking for a story that champions young women taking control of their own lives, having their own dreams and desires, The Golden Fury does a fine job.

 Sexual Content: References to sex, kissing

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