I’m used to living on my own. For decades, I’ve been traveling around the U.S. and living out of my silver Airstream trailer – until this week.
I was tired of my itinerant life, so I bought this dilapidated Craftsman house in Portland, Oregon, a friendly city full of people seeking to reinvent themselves. My plan is to plant a real garden for the first time and years, become a regular at the neighborhood teashop that’s full of kindred spirits, and fix up my basement to resume the studies I abandoned ages ago. I’m hoping to put down some roots for at least a few years, until my past inevitably catches up with me.
I’m not a criminal – although I was once viewed that way. I’m an alchemist. I accidentally discovered the Elixir of Life over 300 years ago. Now aside for my naturally white hair, I don’t age the way most people do. It’s difficult – even dangerous – to explain alchemy to people, so I keep moving. Out of necessity, I’m careful not to reveal my true identity. I don’t tell people that the reason I wake up with the sun is because planetary alignments dictate it, nor do I tell them I start my day by drinking a green smoothie or an herbal tea because my vitality is tied to the energy of plants.
But it looks like I wasn’t careful enough. There was a stowaway in the moving crates I shipped to Portland from a storage facility in Paris. When I opened an oversize box containing equipment from my old alchemy laboratory, sitting among the hermetic vases and glass vessels was a three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle. He unfurled his wings and stepped out of the box.
I’ve seen a lot in my 340 years, so I didn’t run screaming from the house when a living gargoyle greeted me with a thick French accent. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because within only a few days I’ve grown quite attached to the little creature. It turns out he sought me out to help him decipher the strange alchemy book that brought him to life but now threatens his existence.
The gargoyle’s name is Dorian Robert-Houdin, and he looks remarkably like one of the gargoyles I’ve seen sitting atop Notre Dame in Paris. He’s as real as you or I, and his ego is bigger than that of any person I’ve ever known. After tasting his culinary alchemy, I don’t blame him for his ego. Using the healing herbs and vegetables I grow and preserve, the impish gargoyle gourmet can transform the simplest ingredients into the most decadent vegan feasts I’ve ever tasted.
As if my life wasn’t complicated enough, now I’ve got a secret gargoyle chef for a roommate and an ancient mystery to unravel. Unfortunately, before I could get to work decoding Dorian’s mysterious alchemy book, my new home was burglarized. Dorian’s precious book was stolen along with other items, and the man I hired to fix up the house was murdered on my porch. But my contractor’s death can’t have anything to do with me and Dorian. Right? I can’t tell the police about the urgency in recovering the missing alchemy book, so to save the life of my misfit friend, I must rely on the help of my new neighbors and delve into the alchemical past that I’ve been running from.
You can read more about Zoe and Dorian in The Accidental Alchemist, the first book in the new “Accidental Alchemist” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 15 for the chance to win a copy of THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST. The giveaway is open to everyone.
About the author
Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and the forthcoming Quicksand) and the new Accidental Alchemist mysteries. Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment. Gigi spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with an overgrown vegetable garden in the backyard.