The Tower’s Alchemist
The Gray Tower Trilogy, Book #1
By Alesha Escobar
ISBN# 9781461050605
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Verushka

Wizards and Nazi Warlock Vampires during World War II; an unusual combination to say the least, but Alesha Escobar shows a deft hand in bringing this, the first of her trilogy to life.

Isabella is a spy, an alchemist but more than anything she is tired when we meet her. Escobar takes great care to draw Isabella to help readers understand why she is tired of fighting the good fight, and readers will be able to understand where she is coming from. Escobar doesn’t shy away from the harshness of WWII. Isabella allows herself to be drawn into a final mission – to extract a warlock from the Nazi’s clutches and prevent him and them from releasing a plague on the Allies in Europe.

If only things were that easy for Isabella. Her mission becomes complicated – to say the least, and in between trying to resolve her feelings for two potential love interests and succeed in her mission, she also discovers that there are things about herself she never realized,  things that change everything about her.

Thin on the plot I know, but there is so much happening it’s hard to know where to begin to accurately start describing this book, without forgetting myself and giving everything away. It reads like an old black and white war movie and I am making that statement with a straight face, I promise. Escobar’s attention to detail, to bringing an era long past to life in an urban fantasy is wonderful. Secondary characters, who do not have as many pages as they should to evolve, are nonetheless superbly drawn. In the atmosphere created by Escobar, they fit, details are given because they matter.

Isabella is a determined and relatable character. She has friends and family she sees too infrequently and misses, and yearns to be able to settle down. It is perhaps a case of the grass is greener on the other side, but that remains to be seen in the next couple of books. Her desire to love and be loved in return doesn’t over power her characterization  but the problem lies in the fact that much of the first part of the book is devoted to how much she cares for a fellow spy, before he is shifted off, and her attention moves on to someone else. It’s not as quick as I am making it sound, but both romantic interests are such interesting, charismatic characters, more time should have been devoted to why they are, or they aren’t the man/men for her. It’s too quick of a jump from one to another.

Another strength of this novel is the pacing – from the first page, the pacing never lets up. It is frantic, as it should be considering the setting and Escobar’s writing draws you in and never lets go. However, that said, at some points there seems to be far too much going on and I felt there were at least two or three excellent plot points that could be separated into different books. There is so much happening, and so much Isabella has to deal with, I felt I couldn’t give each plot point as much attention as it deserved and I felt that Isabella did not have enough time to deal with emotional heart-wrenching elements that she should have.

I want to mention the world building here again – did I mention how much I loved it? Because I did – the historical detail is engrossing as much as the details of the power the wizards in Escobar’s world wield.

This is a fast paced, action packed book, with rich plot elements, that perhaps deserve more attention than they have been given in this title.