The Potion Diaries – Amy Alward
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 2016
Genre: Young Adult
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.
Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?
And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.
No big deal, then.
The kingdom of Nova and its inhabitants
The Potion Diaries is set in a fictional world quite like ours but steeped in magic and alchemy. The people of Nova fall into one of three types of people; talented, alchemist and ordinary.
The talented are rock stars of the kingdom, born with magic flowing through their blood which allows them to channel magic through an object. On graduation from the most prestigious of schools, talented’s are given their own object which reflects how they will use their magic.
Alchemists are rather ordinary but have a talent for mixing potions. Those that use only natural ingredients are fast falling out of favour for those that mix a synth alternative. Alchemists that work only with naturals require their own finder, someone who with no magical ability can search far and wide in the Wilds for the ingredients needed.
We then have the ordinaries, those who have no magical talent. Destined to work jobs that use technology such as drivers, engineers, pilots, etc. These are roles that magic interferes with so cannot be held by talented’s.
The kingdom of Nova is run by the royal family, which is where our story starts. Evelyn, Princess of Nova is feeling the pressure to marry, and soon. On the eve of the 18th birthday, she has mixed a love potion, one that she intends to slip to her best friend. However, she accidentally poisons herself, putting her life and the kingdom at risk.
A Wilde Hunt hasn’t been called in many years, but one must be called to find a cure for the princess as soon as possible. Auden’s horn calls all those eligible to the palace, talented’s and alchemists alike. Those that wish to take part must re-create the potion with only natural ingredients, and soon.
Sam Kemi is one of those called forward, she comes from a long line of alchemist’s, her grandmother once being the right hand to the royal family. The hunt is on, alongside her finder Kirsty, Sam must travel further than she had ever dreamed.
The Potion Diaries reflects the friendships of Sam and those around her in a way that you do not often see. She is extremely close to her family; her parents who show her what love should be between two people, her grandfather who teaches her how to mix and her young talented sister.
And it’s nice to see my parents so happy: Mum in her bright lipstick, long skirt and flower-print top, Dad staring at her like she is still a beautiful young woman way out of his league.
Alward, A. 2016, p.12
Sam has a best friend in Anita, who has been her partner in crime for as long as she can remember. Anita is one of the other teams in the Wilde Hunt and it isn’t long before their friendship is put to the test. With mounting pressure from the media following their every step and Emlia Thoth trying to sabotage all teams in the hunt, Sam must decide whether her friendship or the future of her families name is more important.
Further complications arise with the Aster family, the synth company who are putting alchemists such as the Kemi’s shop out of business. Zain is a young talented, heir to the ZoroAster company and Princess Evelyn’s best friend. As Sam’s natural enemy, how close will she get to him to win the hunt?
As someone who enjoys being inside, with her laptop and books available, the hunt is a completely different world for Sam. She must leave her comfort zone and enter the Wilds where she will put her life in danger to locate the ingredients needed to recreate the love potion.
Love potions were long ago wiped out as illegal and it would take a great alchemist to work out the potion. Lucky for the Kemi family, Sam is a natural and using her gut feelings she manages to put together a mix that will reproduce the potion.
Travelling to the rising in the Wilds of Nova for merpearl, to the treetops of Bharat in search of eluvian ivy, you get to experience the rush alongside Sam and Kirsty. This instantly caught my attention, with the different worlds being home to various plants and animals. From Mermaids to Vampire Bats I loved every moment of the journey.
I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed this book, I read it in one sitting as I couldn’t put it down. Much like Harry Potter, there is enough that is similar to our world, yet it has its own amazing twist. The book reminded me of so many books I love (The Edge Chronicles) but with its own beautiful charm.
The entire book was fast paced and you felt the urgency of the characters, all of whom were so well written they were an absolute delight. The Potion Diaries is bright, and vibrant and fun, with a strong core that questions friendship and family responsibility. It made me laugh out loud and gasp, I immediately ordered the next book on completion.
This book should be read by any fan of fantasy that takes place in our world, and in particular any that enjoy an adventure.
I read The Potion Diaries as part of the Zoella bookclub which was exclusive to WHSmith.
WHSmith included many additional things on their blog in relation to the books, some of which I’ve listed below:
Zoella and WHSmith’s reviews: here
A deleted scene from the book: here
The Potion Diaries soundtrack: here