There are work weeks where you feel like it’s never going to end. Or maybe it’s when school is being killer. My go to has always been light-hearted books in those weeks. Ones that were cute, had some stakes to them, but that never made me anxious or worried. The Potion Diaries fits into this niche perfectly. Want a way to unwind? Want something fun and uncomplicated to read as you’re winding down for the weekend?
From the very beginning, The Potion Diaries is incredibly cute and probably on the younger side of the YA spectrum. There’s a princess who has to marry someone soon to share the magic of the kingdom, but she doesn’t trust any of her suitors. Instead, she brews an illegal love potion and administers it to her best friend, Zain Aster. If she’s forced to marry, it will at least be to someone she trusts.
There’s this beautiful moment when the potion is administered and you’re waiting for Zain to begin to act funny only to realize that it’s the princess who had the spiked drink. A quest for the antidote is started and all the best alchemists in the world have been drawn into the hunt. For Samantha Kemi that means a chance to bring back the prestige of her family’s name, to fight Zoro Aster and his potions made with synthetic ingredients.
For Zoro Aster (and his son, Zain), it’s a chance to permanently impress the Royal Family. But there are other people in this race as well. Emilia, the disgraced sister of the king, is also in the race and she’ll do anything to get what she wants.
If you’re looking for a Harry Potter vibe, you’ll only half get what you want. There is a world of magic, one that is fully integrated with the world that the characters live in, but our main character isn’t able to do any magic at all. In fact, Samantha explains that it’s not considered a good thing for an alchemist to be able to do magic since there are too many ways that the magic could react with the ingredients.
So we step into Samantha’s shoes, watching sometimes miraculous things happening all around us as she tries to beat the competition with no magic and few resources at her disposal.
The magic in The Potion Diaries is loosely explained which is perfect for me. There’s just enough to whet our appetites, but we’re not sitting through page after page of exposition dump just to get to the meat of the plot. That in itself would be enough for me to recommend it, but where the novel really shines is its female characters.
Samantha Kemi is a strong female character with a group of female friends around her who are supportive throughout the entire novel. I can’t begin to explain how refreshing it is to see other girls not being catty with each other, especially when there’s a huge prize on offer. It could have been so easy to make them fight amongst each other, to flirt with and try to capture Zain’s affections, but The Potion Diaries sticks to its guns.
As great as Samantha is, it was her ‘Finder’, Kirsty, who stuck out the most for me. As a Finder she has to travel all around the world, outside the zones that have been deemed habitable as she collects potion ingredients from monsters. If there is a side story to this novel, I hope we get to see more from Kirsty’s perspective.
So if you want a cute little adventure where the boys/men are either antagonists or secondary to the female characters, The Potion Diaries is the book for you.
The perfect distraction when you need it the most.