Katie Reads: The Potion Diaries

Remember in my last post how when I was in Heathrow I stopped at a bookstore to buy some of the beautiful UK editions of Harry Potter and ended up buying another book too? Just because the back was so funny? This is that book.

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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.

Despite the fact it mentions social media on the back of the book I some how completely zoned out and expected the book to take place in a ye olde times fantasy world. I was pleasantly surprised when instead it took place in a modern world not unlike our own, but that is infinitely superior because it has MAGIC. I really liked the world Alward created. The few fully modern magical worlds I’ve read about (rather than a modern world with secret magic ala Harry Potter or the Mortal Instruments) have been much darker and edgier, so it was a nice change to read about a magical world that was a little more lighthearted. It was a thoroughly modern world and characters used phones and tablets, but there were also appearances by unicorns and mermaids, and it was great.

Just because the setting was lighthearted doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of action and danger in the story, and the fantastical hunt for potion ingredients takes us to several other magical countries as well. We didn’t get a whole lot of detail on these other countries, but I loved the bits we did get. Hopefully the fact that the next book is a called “Royal Tour” means we’ll get to see even more.

In some of the reviews I read, people were split on whether or not they liked the plot catalyst of the princess accidentally drinking a love potion that makes her fall in love with herself. I thought it was hilarious. It was part of the reason I thought the summary of the book sounded so entertaining in the first place and I think Alward did an amazing job playing up the humor of the mishap early on and then developing the real dangers of the situation as the book as the story continued.

The one part of the book I didn’t buy into was the SPOILER romance between Sam and Zain. Given the number of unique ideas Alward had for other elements of her story, the idea of the offspring of two big rivals falling for each other was meh. Particularly since it fell into the trap of painting Zain as this “omg so gorgeous and talented, everyone loves him but he has a secret sensitive side” kind of guy. Admittedly part of his appearance is a glamor but still. What I did like was the brief interaction between Sam and Evelyn at the end and in the preview chapter for the sequel. Alward if you want to take inspiration from The Legend of Korra and go Korrasami on this in the sequels, I would be so on board for that.

Overall, a really enjoyable read. It’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my classroom library. I’ve already pre-ordered the sequel – from Amazon UK so it’ll come a couple months sooner because in the UK in comes out in August, but in the US it comes out in October.

Stay magical readers!

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