Book Review – De Stad van de Alchemist

Book: De Stad van de Alchemist (De Verborgen Universiteit 3) by Natalie Koch
Release Date: February 9th 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Other books in this series I reviewed
De Erfenis van Richard Grenville // Het Stille Labyrint

Dutch Synopsis

In De stad van de alchemist gaat Alexa Westerhof op zoek naar de geschriften van de zeventiende-eeuwse magus Morgenstern. Kan zijn muziek de wereld vernietigen of juist verbeteren? En mag je magie opdringen aan de wereld als die daar beter van wordt? Welk spel spelen Jeremy Crowley en Augustus Fenrick? Samen met haar grootvader en vrienden duikt Alexa in de geschiedenis van geheime Londense genootschappen om een antwoord te vinden op alle vragen en te voorkomen dat Morgensterns theorieën in verkeerde handen vallen. Raadselachtige sterfgevallen zorgen voor onrust in Londen en als er rellen uitbreken, lijken de dagen van de stad geteld. Intussen moet Artemus Jones zich verantwoorden voor zijn betrokkenheid bij de gebeurtenissen van twintig jaar geleden en zwerft er een dakloze rond die meer te verbergen heeft dan zijn identiteit.

English Synopsis (losely translated)

In this last installment Alexa Westerhof is in search of the writings of the seventeen century mage Morgenstern. Can music destroy the world or improve it? And can you force magic onto the world if it will make it better? Which game do Jeremy Crowley and Augustus Fenrick play together? Together with her grandfather and friends Alexa dives into the history of the secret societies of London to get an answer to all their questions and to prevent Morgensterns theories to end up in the wrong hands. Strange deaths throughout London creates commotion, and when riots break out it looks like the end of the city. In the mean time Artemus Jones has to appear in court for his part in the events that happened twenty years ago. While a homeless man has more to hide than just his identity.


While I still love these characters and this world, I can’t help but feel a tad disappointed by this last book in the trilogy. Ending are always hard. Hard to write for the author and hard to read for us as readers. And it can be hard to satisfy everyone when wrapping up.

It isn’t so much the ending of this book that left me a bit dissatisfied as it was the pacing and set up at the first half of this book. While the pace was slow in the other books we got a lot of character development and world building in return for that. In this case we got a lot of philosophy for it. And it couldn’t quite grab me. I understand what she was trying to do but I think it was becoming a bit too much.  The writing style is already quite heavy and I don’t think that helped a lot.

There were also a lot more different point of views in this book. This to help deepen out some characters like Julia, Crowley and Matthews. I have to say that especially Crowley’s point of views didn’t feel necessary to me. It also felt like it only served to put that seed into our head for a later plot twist which was easily guessed after that hint. Also the plot point of the beggar was already obvious in previous books.  The other point of views didn’t grab me as much.  Mostly it felt like a lot of dragging on the story. However in some parts they were necessary.

Alexa also felt a tad different at the start of this book. She feels guilty and she is letting Fenrick get to her. I missed the bond she had with Sander in the first book. To me it feels like that completely disappeared after he got a girlfriend in the second book. As if that placed a wall between them. Alexa became more self-absorbed which is understandable to a point, but she lets Jamie in when Sander was her friend before. I just couldn’t really understand that I guess, though I suppose it was mostly to set up the romance.  I did like seeing her develop something with her grandfather. I enjoyed Rafiel the most in this book because he is a darker and grittier character, even more so than Matthews despite his nature.

The ending was explosive and took its toll on London and on our characters. It was interesting to see how they discovered things and that it wasn’t just Alexa, our heroine so the speak, that did all the work. Others had their role to play that played to their strength. Alexa was important but through hard work. Not because she had a random thought. I feel satisfied with how the plot was wrapped up. I’m not sure which other way she could have gone with it.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – De Stad van de Alchemist

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