Really closer to a 3.5 but I always round up :)
So blessed to read Elise Kova's new jewel. I knew it was going to be steam punk, so I was a little weary because frankly, I hate the genre. However, Kova weaves magic and mechanics together like Rumpelstiltskin weaves gold.
Ari, a Chimera hates dragons. They have enslaved her society and destroyed its long ago prosperity. She will take on any job if it means she gets to hurt or kill dragons. Until....she meets Cvares, a dragon in need who offers her a boon. A boon she cannot refuse. She is furious with him for being kind and more furious with herself for beginning to like him as she grudgingly helps him on his quest.
We get a 4 POVs for the most part: Ari, Cvares, Florence, and one of the villains, Leona (who's POV I found unnecessary, but alas).
I honestly was not a fan of Ari. She was brutal and closed off in a way where even the reader doesn't really get to know her. We know the one thing she really cares about is her apprentice, Florence who is as loyal as they come, innocent in her trust, and kind and sincere in the face of prejudice.
Cvares was another character who I liked but also felt I didn't know well. Both he and Ari almost have something of a one track mind where we learn about the mission, and what is going on in their heads, but not really their feelings. In Kova's previous series (Air Awakens), I literally felt the emotion on every page and cried in every book. But...the Alchemists of Loom did not make me feel any sort of emotion or connection between Cvares and Ari. I just didn't feel it despite Kova's slow change in feelings along the journey. It wasn't abrupt, but it just didn't feel right.
Regardless to say, I loved the plot twists at the end, I think it was constructing the world and setting up Ari's bitter character that took away from the plot. The way things ended, I have much higher expectations for book 2. I love Florence, I sort of enjoy Cvares, and I can see myself loving Ari if her passion is channeled into productiveness rather than hatred from things long passed.
Overall, 3.5 stars. If you're looking for a good read with crafty yet perfectly imperfect characters and a fabulous new world, this is your book. For those who loved the Air Awakens series, a note of caution: The Alchemists of Loom is nothing like the Air Awakens. Not in any single aspect. In fact, the writing style is more similar to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. So, don't go in thinking you will see similar writing. Where Valah was innocent and hopeful at first, Ari is experienced and bitter. Where Aldrik was the imperfect angry jerky dream boat we all loved, Cvares is a kind Alpha male type. Expected the unexpected and enjoy!