Our protagonist, Zoe Faust used to be an alchemist and an herbalist, using her skills with herbs and plants to make healing elixirs and salves to help people. She had been doing that for many years but now she sells alchemical antiques online as a way of making a living. Zoe decides she's been running from her former life in alchemy for too long and wants to finally put down roots. She chooses Portland Oregon where she feels comfortable and peaceful after years of emotional turbulence.
Zoe is in for a surprise though. When she purchases an old, rundown house, only one contractor will agree to do her renovations. On the day that the contractor is supposed to start the required work, he turns up dead on her doorstep! Even weirder, the night before this man's death, Zoe found a gargoyle among her things as she began to unpack her stuff. The night before must have been an hallucination. Gargoyles aren't alive, they don't talk to you and tell you their name is Dorian Robert-Houdin, they don't beg for your help in deciphering an old alchemy textbook and they certainly do NOT cook you dinner! Where has her life led her and what has killed her contractor? That's the beginning of our unusual and refreshing mystery.
Yes, it is an unusual, highly unusual premise. But I beg you to suspend your disbelief because this book is well worth your time. I loved all the cooking, vegan food and tea that permeated this book. The mystery keeps you yearning for answers but also has such lovely background information and characters that it's a pleasure to read every word. I wanted this book to go on and on so I do hope the writer, Gigi Pandian, plans to write another with these lovely characters. I realize it's not a traditional mystery but that's the pleasure in this book, it's a departure from the hard boiled detectives, earnest police investigators and bumbling amateur sleuths. I have to give this four stars out of five and I urge you to go pick this little gem of a read up. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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