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The Elusive Elixir

The Elusive Elixir

4.0 3
by Gigi Pandian

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Dorian Robert-Houdin, the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle chef who fancies himself a modern-day Poirot, is slowly turning into stone, and it’s up to Zoe Faust to unravel the alchemical secrets that can save him. When they discover that a long-lost stone gargoyle with a connection to Dorian has reappeared in Europe, the stakes are even higher. From Portland to


Dorian Robert-Houdin, the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle chef who fancies himself a modern-day Poirot, is slowly turning into stone, and it’s up to Zoe Faust to unravel the alchemical secrets that can save him. When they discover that a long-lost stone gargoyle with a connection to Dorian has reappeared in Europe, the stakes are even higher. From Portland to Paris, Zoe searches for the hidden knowledge she needs, but a cold case that harkens back to 1942 throws her off course. With an ailing friend desperately trying to discover his own Elixir of Life and a new romantic interest offering the first chance at love she’s had in nearly a century, Zoe is torn between a dangerous form of alchemy and her desire for a normal life.


"Pandian's imaginative third Accidental Alchemist mystery . . . will please those who like their cozies filled with magic."—Publishers Weekly

"The unbelievable premise is no problem given the inventive powers of Pandian."—Kirkus Reviews

"Pandian writes fun, light-hearted mysteries and is an expert at developing sympathetic characters, both major and minor."—Bustle

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Pandian’s imaginative third Accidental Alchemist mystery (after 2016’s The Masquerading Magician), 300-year-old alchemist Zoe Faust leaves her home in Portland, Ore., to search old haunts in Paris, in an effort to save her best friend, Dorian Robert-Houdin, a living gargoyle. The charming Dorian, who was originally brought to life through sloppy and impermanent “backwards alchemy,” is slowly reverting to stone. But before Zoe can learn anything to help Dorian, she’s accosted by a woman who claims to have known her in Paris in 1945. To avoid being exposed, Zoe takes the first flight out of France. But someone follows her back to Portland. There’s at least one other victim of backward alchemy, and that someone will stop at nothing, not even murder, to remain alive. Too much backstory and unnecessary digression slow the action, but likable characters, fanciful creatures, paranormal doings, and a little romance will please those who like their cozies filled with magic. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
A gifted alchemist may have to choose between rescuing a friend and keeping her own identity secret.Though Zoe Faust has maintained a low profile for years, she has a mission that draws her out of her home in Portland, Oregon. She’s determined to find a cure for her closest friend, Dorian Robert-Houdin, who’s slowly been succumbing to paralysis. This isn’t just any rescue mission, because Zoe is a centuries-old alchemist, and Dorian, her patient and friend, is a petite French gargoyle brought to life by the great magician Houdini. When the two get word of another living statue in France, Zoe rushes off to see if there’s something to be discovered about how to reanimate Dorian. Instead of finding answers, though, Zoe finds more questions, especially once she meets Madame Blanche Leblanc, a woman who claims to have known her grandmother. In fact, Zoe and her grandmother are one and the same: alchemy has made Zoe stop aging, and fictitious relatives are a more convincing explanation than her intimation that her vegan lifestyle has kept her eternally young. Does Madame Leblanc suspect the truth? When Zoe returns home, she’s happy to reconnect with her boyfriend, Max Liu, and her other local friends, though she’s immediately distracted by a murder investigation that has the town talking. Now Zoe can’t concentrate on Dorian because she worries that her own past has finally caught up with her. The unbelievable premise is no problem given the inventive powers of Pandian, whose alchemist series (The Masquerading Magician, 2016, etc.) is enriched this time by her sharper focus on developing her characters’ back stories.

Product Details

Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
Publication date:
Accidental Alchemist Mystery Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

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Meet the Author

USA Todaybestselling authorGigi Pandian (El Cerrito, CA) is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. After spending her childhood being dragged around the world, she now writes the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi's first novel was named a Best of 2012 Debut Novel bySuspense Magazine,and her fiction has been awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and Lefty Awards.

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The Elusive Elixir 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
KrisAnderson_TAR 3 months ago
The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian is the third book in The Accidental Alchemist Mystery series. Zoe Faust is in Paris hoping to find answers to help her gargoyle friend, Dorian Robert-Houdin. Dorian was changed from a stone gargoyle at Notre Dame Cathedral’s Gallery of Gargoyle’s into a live gargoyle. But over the last few months he has slowly turning back into stone. Dorian will be alive but trapped in his stone exterior. Zoe wants to save him and has come to Paris for answers. Another gargoyle was recently spotted alive in Prague and it was turned over to the Paris University (Zoe has not been able to get access). Before Zoe can get some answers, Blanche Leblanc approaches her. Blanche claims to have known Zoe in 1942. The woman then has her nephew, a police officer, talk with Zoe regarding the fire of Elixir (the herbalist shop Zoe owned in Paris) and the death of Jasper Dubois. Zoe cannot risk her secrets coming to light and flees Paris. Back in Portland, Ivan Danko, Zoe’s neighbor and friend, is busy trying to discover the Elixir of Life (he does not wish to die). Zoe soon realizes that someone has followed Zoe back to Portland. They want Dorian’s book Non Degenera Alchemia, which talks about backward alchemy. Life has taken a very dangerous turn for Zoe. Will she be able to rescue Dorian and keep the book safe? The Elusive Elixir is well-written, easy to read, and fascinating. There are a lot of details and it can be hard to keep them all straight. I have not read the previous books in this series, but it did not hinder my enjoyment of The Elusive Elixir (the author provides the necessary background information on Zoe and Dorian). I give The Elusive Elixir 4.25 out of 5 stars (I really liked it). I did find some information to be repeated several times (that Max Liu is Zoe’s “sort of” boyfriend, the basics about backward alchemy, and information about Zoe’s past). Zoe Faust is a great main character. She is intelligent, strong, and resourceful. I appreciated Dorian. He is humorous and entertaining (and an excellent chef). I found the mystery fascinating, but I did figure it out (it is wonderfully complex). I am looking forward to reading the other novels in The Accidental Alchemist series.
CozyUpWithKathy 4 months ago
a tautly written mystery that combines the vagaries of truth with sacrifice THE ELUSIVE ELIXIR by Gigi Pandian The Third Accidental Alchemist Mystery Shocking truths from the past are revealed as Zoe travels to France to hunt for a cure for Dorian who continues to turn into stone. As Zoe copes with these revelations upon her return to Portland, even more secrets are revealed and the dangers of not untrue alchemy prove deadly. Will Zoe be able to save Dorian without sacrificing herself, or anyone else? Will Max be able to accept all that Zoe is? In this third book in the Accidental Alchemist Mystery series Zoe is faced with multiple trials. In trying to find the key to save Dorian, while keeping her identity as an alchemist quiet, she is confronted with information that challenges what she believed and believes to be true. Ultimately, this novel is about sacrifice. What are you willing to do to save someone else, or yourself? THE ELUSIVE ELIXIR is a tautly written mystery that combines the vagaries of truth with sacrifice. Gigi Pandian has the ability to transport you into her world with visceral details. I believed I was actually climbing the steps of Notre Dame, watching the bees swarm with the scent of honey and cloves in the air, and feeling the desperation of her characters. Yet everything is not all dark and dire, there is humor here as well, especially as we get to know Leopold. This third book in the series held me captivated and left me satisfied with an intriguing whiff of things to come. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
AnnieMarch26 4 months ago
After I finished reading The Elusive Elixir I felt mixed emotions. I was heartbroken for Zoe, elated for Dorian and anxious about were the next book in the series would lead. It also left me thinking of a Chinese proverb that I heard as a child, “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” I was on pins and needles as I read the story because Zoe's past and present collided in a very unexpected way. She was lied to and betrayed by people from both her past and present. What I loved most about this story is that Zoe's and Dorian's unusual friendship taught them both valuable lessons. Dorian's acceptance of his fate and his refusal to give in to evil to save himself, and Zoe's willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friend was beautifully written. I am looking forward to the audio-book being released on audible. I received a free, advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.