Beauty and the Alchemist
The Alchemical Tales Book 1
by Elle Hartford
Genre: Cozy Fantasy Mystery
In this magical mix-up of fairy tales and murder, Little Red Riding Hood solves the mystery at the heart of Beauty and the Beast . . .
What does it take to overcome a curse?
Traveling alchemist Red settles into life as a shopkeeper in rural Belville and expects to focus on her potions. But crime stops for no woman. Neither does Red’s friend, police officer Thorn! When a beastly criminal escapes to a nearby abandoned castle and is found murdered, Thorn immediately suspects Luca, a meek-mannered bookseller–not to mention Red’s best friend.
Red knows that there’s more to the castle–and the murder–than meets the eye. But as she rushes to prove Luca’s innocence, she’s beset by a not-dead-yet ghost, a beautiful and ill-tempered suspect, and a horde of mysterious mist creatures that terrify the town. Oh, and then there’s the series of lost books that hold the key to the castle’s curse! If Red and her friends can’t find the books and solve the mystery, Luca might not be the only one in trouble. But in idyllic Belville, appearances can be deceiving. Red will need all of her alchemical prowess and all the help she can get in order to uncover the truth behind this twisted tale.
This special second edition includes a new epilogue, recipes, and a sneak peek at book two of The Alchemical Tales.
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“Hauntings and Stars”: A Character Interview with a Magical Dog
By Elle Hartford
Today we’re interviewing William, one of the lead characters in Beauty and the Alchemist. William, would you introduce yourself?
W: I’ll say this once, so listen up. I’m an arcane familiar, which isn’t the same as just a talking dog. I’m magic. I know all kinds of things. This poofy black fur is a disguise–all the better to intimidate villains with.
Well, I have heard you described as a “wolf dog” by the uninitiated, so that makes sense! Do you often run into villains?
W: I’ve seen all kinds. Though they’re usually smart enough not to pick a fight. I’ve been traveling with Red for a long time, and before that I traveled on my own a lot, too.
Could you tell us about Red, your current companion?
W: When I met Red, she was a traveling alchemist. You know, the sort who goes from town to town selling potions and little science-y things. She was alone at the time, and I could tell that she was the kind of person who attracts trouble. She’s smart, don’t get me wrong, but she needs someone to keep her from getting in over her head sometimes. And I wasn’t busy, and she didn’t try to do any experiments on me or steal my magic, so I thought, why not?
And that “why not” has become the basis for a years-long friendship! How do you feel about Red’s decision to settle in Belville and open a shop?
W: Part of being a magical familiar is it gives you perspective on people. So I know something that Red doesn’t know: when she settled in Belville, she thought she was doing it for work–you know, “wonderful natural resources for potions” and “great place to sell to traders” and all those other things she says–but what she really wanted was a home.
Unfortunately, that home has been the scene of several mysteries and even murders, isn’t that so?
W: Yes, and one particularly suspicious bookseller, if you ask me. But nowhere is perfect. Listen, some people who won’t be named think of me as just a big loyal dog. In only one particular, they’re right: I’ll go wherever Red goes. It doesn’t matter to me where we settle down. What does matter to me is that Red finds what she needs to find (because she was getting a little strange and mopey being on the road all the time, let me tell you).
That sounds rather sweet of you, actually. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
W: Look out for haunted books. But other than that, Belville isn’t so bad. It’s got a great view of the stars. And if you come into Red’s Alchemy and Potions, just don’t call me a “dog” and we’ll be fine.
That wraps up our interview! To find out what William means about hauntings, stars, and home, check out Beauty and the Alchemist wherever you buy books.
Elle adores cozy mysteries, fairy tales, and above all, learning new things. As a historian and educator, she believes in the value of stories as a mirror for complicated realities. She currently lives in New Jersey with a grumpy tortoise and a three-legged cat.
Find more stories of Red and her friends at ellehartford.com. And while you’re there, sign up for Elle’s newsletter to get bonus material, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and terrible jokes!
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