Many Layers to a Modern Fantasy Novel: Madly

#ZoellaBookClub Review: Madly by Amy Alward

Title: Madly (The Potion Diaries)
Author: Amy Alward
Pages: 384
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 29, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Synopsis: 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.

I was not expecting a contemporary fantasy novel when I picked this up. Honestly, I had no clue what to expect. I was just reading it because it was on the list of book clubs books and I thought it was another contemporary romance.

The cover gives nothing away, except for a really girly feel which I normally stray from. There's a lot going on in the cover. It doesn't seem like a lot until you really look at it and you're like, where do my eyes need to go? It is pretty. Personally, I prefer the UK edition. It's more eye-appealing in my judgement.

I enjoyed reading this book. I found it fun. I liked how the plot brought in some fantasy elements while still dealing with a more media/advanced world. There was some great world-building in this book.

Madly was amusing, especially when Princess Evelyn fell in love with herself. It was extremely unexpected (since I didn't read the synopsis prior) and I have never in my time reading heard anything quite like falling in love with oneself. There's been some narcissism here and there, but none like where Evelyn is actually flirting with her reflection. It was fantastic.

I loved the adventure and getting to see this other world Alward has created. It reflects a lot of our own, but there are a lot of differences. The Hunt was probably my favorite part. It created challenges and rivalry in one big epic quest that reminds me of The Hobbit.

The alchemy element was cool. I liked how you can see how Sam's head worked with all of the potions. She knew all of the uses for a certain ingredient, and she knew how to add them together.

The romance was unnecessary, especially given all of the other elements this novel has, but I did enjoy it. I still have some mixed feelings about Zain, but I would love to read book two and see how their relationship grows.

The writing didn't suit my tastes. As I wrote on a Goodreads status, it seemed childish almost. I'm not sure of the best was to describe it. It didn't flow to me as a reader, but it wasn't choppy. It didn't go into a lot of extraneous detail which is what I'm used to from a fantasy. It seemed very basic, as if just scratching the surface, but I feel as if it can go a whole lot deeper in the world. The world building is there, the writing just needs to reflect it.

All in all, I liked indulging in this book. It was quick-paced and managed to keep your attention. It was original, and had an awesome adventure component to it. I didn't have a lot of thoughts on the characters. I did like seeing how unstable Evelyn's power got. It raised the stakes. if your looking for a fun adventure, try Madly.

About the Author

Amy Alward is a Canadian author and freelance editor who divides her time between the UK and Canada. In 2013, she was listed as one of The Bookseller's Rising Stars. Her debut fantasy adventure novel, The Oathbreaker's Shadow, was published in 2013 under the name Amy McCulloch and was longlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award for best UK debut children's book. Her first book written as Amy Alward, The Potion Diaries, was an international success and the second novel in the series, The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour will be published in August 2016. She is currently travelling the world, researching more extraordinary settings and intriguing potions for the third book in the series.
As always, she continues to be addicted to adventure, coffee and really great books.