Mixing Mystery, Magic, and Fantasy with "Beauty and the Alchemist"
What does it take to overcome a curse?
Now, you can find out in this magical mix-up, mash-up mystery from author Elle Hartford, Beauty and the Alchemist.
And if you've ever wondered exactly what "alchemy" is, be sure to check out the author's guest post and giveaways of a signed copy or a $10 Amazon Gift Card below!
Beauty and the Alchemist (The Alchemical Tales Book 1)
by Elle Hartford
Publication Date: April 20, 2023
Genre: Cozy Fantasy Mystery
In this magical mix-up of fairy tales and murder, Little Red Riding Hood solves the mystery at the heart of Beauty and the Beast . . .
Traveling alchemist Red settles into life as a shopkeeper in rural Belville and expects to focus
on her potions. But crime stops for no woman. Neither does Red’s friend, police officer Thorn!
When a beastly criminal escapes to a nearby abandoned castle and is found murdered, Thorn
immediately suspects Luca, a meek-mannered bookseller–not to mention Red’s best friend.
Red knows that there’s more to the castle–and the murder–than meets the eye. But as she
rushes to prove Luca’s innocence, she’s beset by a not-dead-yet ghost, a beautiful and ill-
tempered suspect, and a horde of mysterious mist creatures that terrify the town.
Oh, and then there’s the series of lost books that hold the key to the castle’s curse! If Red and her friends can’t find the books and solve the mystery, Luca might not be the only one in trouble. But in idyllic Belville, appearances can be deceiving. Red will need all of her alchemical prowess and all the help she can get in order to uncover the truth behind this twisted tale.
This special second edition includes a new epilogue, recipes, and a sneak peek at book
two of The Alchemical Tales.
**On Sale for Only .99cents!!**
Amazon * Apple * B&N *Kobo * Smashwords * Books2Read * Bookbub * Goodreads
What Is Alchemy, Anyway?
From Harry Potter to The Da Vinci Code, alchemical symbols and inventions play a dramatic
role in storytelling. I myself write about all the time in my new mystery series! But what is
The way I think of it, alchemy is a field where history, science, and magic come together. To put
it simply . . .
1. It isn’t New Age. The alchemy I’m talking about is what I call “old school” alchemy. Up
until the 1400s or so, it was considered a real science. Kings had royal alchemists, and
noble sons went into the profession (often looking for ways to expand their family fortune,
but we’ll set that aside for now).
2. It’s more famous than you might think! Today, some people we remember as important
early scientists actually considered themselves alchemists. One example of this is Sir
Isaac Newton, who dabbled in alchemy all his life, though he generally kept this hidden
because by his time (the 1600s) alchemy was considered questionable.
3. It was about the Elixir of Life–for some. Since we’re speaking of famous alchemists, you
might be thinking of Albus Dumbledore and his friend Nicolas Flamel . . . who was, in
fact, based on a real person. The Philosopher’s Stone was a sort of “unicorn” in
alchemical research: everybody wanted one, and there were lots of theories about how to
make one. It was rumored that the Stone could do all kinds of things, including grant
everlasting life, cure colds, create gems, and–of course–turn anything into gold.
4. It was about gold, too. What’s up with that? Well, for a lot of people–including many
kings–more gold meant more money, just like you’d expect. But for serious alchemists, it
wasn’t about money at all. One of the fundamental tenets of alchemy is that everything in
the world can be perfected. And, as ancient alchemists saw it, raw materials like lead or
copper were just really imperfect versions of gold, which was the pinnacle of all metals.
So in striving to create a stone that could make gold, what alchemists were really trying
to do was create a process by which the physical world could be transformed into its
“best self,” so to speak.
5. It was also about mercury! Honestly, to some alchemists, the element mercury was even
better than gold. This is because ancient alchemy was science and world view and
religion all rolled into one big philosophy. The four elements–water, fire, air, and earth–
which today we think of as mystical were facts of life to the alchemists, and mercury
embodied all four. Yes, I’m talking about the stuff that drove hatters mad and that used to
be in every thermometer. Some alchemists thought it held the secret to life itself.
6. It was a field of research. So, what did alchemists actually do? Well, some of them were
charlatans, and they spent a lot of time running confidence schemes and escaping from
the law. :) But “scholarly” alchemists spent months on end in their laboratories.
Alchemical equipment often included things like kilns, beakers, mortars and pestles, and
all kinds of glass containers. Picture the quintessential “mad scientist” set up with a
complicated array of pipes and burners and bubbling liquids, and you’re on the money.
7. It gave us a lot! Of course, alchemy has given us endless fodder for crazy stories and
secret society theories–especially because alchemists tended to write about their science
using religious metaphors and complicated symbolism. Because hey, not everyone can
be trusted with the secrets of making gold, right? And not everyone can know that we
actually can’t make gold . . . oops. It’s true, alchemy never did give us an Elixir of Life or a
Philosopher’s Stone. However, it did give us chemistry, and the beginnings of biology and
physics as well.
And why, you may wonder, have I done all this research? For one thing, I find it simply
fascinating. But it’s also the basis for my cozy mystery sleuth, an “old-school” alchemist named
Red. Because who better to help solve mysteries than someone who has tons of random
scientific equipment, extensive botanical knowledge, and a dedication to careful observations of fact?
You can read stories about Red and her friends on my website, ellehartford.com. You can also
find my blog there, where I share lots of “fun facts” from my research every Friday! And of
course, for the rest of April, Beauty and the Alchemist–my very first novel with Red–is on a
special “anniversary edition” sale. Check it out wherever you buy ebooks!
About the Author:
Elle adores cozy mysteries, fairy tales, and above all, learning new things. As a historian and educator, she believes in the value of stories as a mirror for complicated realities. She currently lives in New Jersey with a grumpy tortoise and a three-legged cat.
Find more stories of Red and her friends at ellehartford.com. And while you’re there, sign up for Elle’s newsletter to get bonus material, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and terrible jokes!
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