Wednesday, January 3, 2018

ARC REVIEW: The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole (Potion Masters #1)



Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy’s mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making. 


Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.



One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as “The Eternity Elixir.” In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.  



Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It’s up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.



Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Eternity Elixir hooked me right from the start, opening on a hairy, pus-covered, slime-trailing monster moping through the house, who is in fact our main character, Gordy, after another failed attempt to create the perfect Halloween costume with a potion of his own invention.

Gordy is a natural talent at concocting and identifying potions, encouraged by his Elixirist mother to continue honing his skills, despite his young age. But when a mysterious potion is sent from his eccentric aunt while his mother is away and two shady lawyers start plying his dad for access to his mom's secret lab, Gordy knows potions aren't going to solve all his problems. With the help of his two best friends, he's got to figure out what the mystery potion is and why someone wants it so bad.

The Eternity Elixir is a fun and fast-paced introduction to a promising new series of magical adventure. It's a great read for younger fantasy lovers, especially anyone who likes Shadow Mountain's other great titles, like Fablehaven or Mysteries of Cove

Cole has created a clever concept with his new Potion Masters series. Instead of wands and spells and flying brooms, his magic system is instead entirely composed of magic potions and stresses the necessity of the exact ingredients and following instructions to the letter. It has a fantastic "Ewww!" factor in its weird and disgusting ingredients -not to mention the ancient mummy in the basement that requires constant treatments of air freshener- which boys especially will love. For anyone who loved and misses Hogwarts' potion classes (and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor jelly beans), then this is probably the series for you.

One of the things I appreciate most about this book is that Gordy is a good kid. Already on his way to being a master Elixirist, he understands the importance of patience, following directions, and obeying the rules. I love to see this in main characters, especially when they're fun and well-developed ones. Gordy does have to push the rules as the events of the story intensify, but it's never for mischievous reasons, and it's refreshing to see this in a children's book. (Don't worry; his best friend Max makes up for this in the mischief department.)

Cole skips over some other genre cliches by making Gordy's family well-grounded and fully supportive in its secrets, and giving Gordy friends who have already stumbled on said secrets. It was a nice twist to jump into a story where the best friends don't have the adjusting period and there's no tenseness in the family over secrets and differences.

The Eternity Elixir is a decent adventure, funny, fast-paced, and full of clever and weird potions and inventions; despite a climax that's a little anti-climactic, it finishes off with a great open-ended epilogue to set up the sequel and potentially an even better villain. There's a lot more to explore in this new world and these characters so I'm looking forward to the next Potion Masters book.