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WesternSFA
Alchemystic: Book One of the Spellmason Chronicles
by Anton Strout
Ace, $7.99, 290pp
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Oh, this was terrific fun. A gargoyle or grotesque as he prefers to be called is the hero of this novel.

Alexandra Belarus is the great-great-granddaughter of a famous New York stone mason whose work is all over Manhattan. Her father is currently a heavy-weight New York realtor ala Donald Trump. He wants Alexandra to work with building contractors and bills of lading, etc., as well. But Alexandra’s true calling is to be a sculptor.

But she has to give this all up when her older brother Devon suddenly dies in a building collapse on one of the Belarus family projects. She is now the family heir and must go to the business meetings, construction sites, etc. that were Devon’s milieu.

Her parents have no idea that she has been carefully going through great-great-grandfather’s work, books, journals and puzzle boxes in the old upstairs studio to get a handle on his work.

Everything changes one evening when Alexandra takes the wrong way home (over near Gramercy Park) and she is attacked in an alley. She does what she can to get away but is cornered against a fence. She figures her number is up—when out of the night, she is lifted up in the air and rescued.

By the gargoyle who has sat on the roof edge of her family’s building for centuries.

She meets Stanis who was created by great-great- Grandfather Belarus to guard future generations of Belarus’ from harm.

And of course, in this novel, we find out just what kind of harm the Belarus’ are up against, who the guy who attacked Alexandra works for and what is their agenda.

Alexandra, known as Lexi to her two best friends Rory (short for Aurora), an arts/dance major, and Marshall, a geek gamer, do their best to discover just what makes Stanis tick and what danger the family is facing because it becomes apparent early on Devon’s death was no accident.

The rummaging Alexandra has been doing in the endless piles of journals and notebooks of her great-great-grandfather has revealed that he was a bit more than a talented stone mason who left his homeland of Lithuania.

He was a Spellmason—someone who could manipulate and infuse stone with magic—and in Stanis’ case make him alive.

Stanis is seven feet tall, human in form and shape, except for his impressive gargoyle leathery wings. He has fangs and claws, but does not need to eat. He can only be active from sundown to sunrise like a vampire.

Alexandra begins to utilize the magic she uncovers in the journals and finds she has an affinity for manipulating stone as well and this affinity may save her family and Stanis.

Stanis, Alexandra, Rory and Marshall’s adventures keep the novel moving at great speed. What especially shines in this book is the terrific, snappy, believable dialogue between the three humans all of whom are in their early twenties. Stanis’ dialogue is wonderfully reserved and stiff.

I really enjoyed this. I enjoyed how all the characters grow and change—and there are some interesting surprises along the way.

Strout also has an ongoing series of novels with a character named Simon Canderous who is a paranormal investigator in New York. I am probably going to check them out because this novel was so entertaining.

This is a great start to a new series. ~~ Sue Martin

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