The Alchemyst

By: 

Michael Scott

Number of Pages: 

375

Minimum grade level: 

6th

Twins Josh and Sophie are having a fairly normal summer, Josh working at a bookshop and Sophie at a coffee shop across the street, when their world is suddenly turned upside down. The bookshop is attacked by Dr. John Dee, a powerful magician, using mud men called golems as henchmen. Perrenelle and Nick Fleming, the couple Josh thought were just laid back bookstore owners, are actually powerful magicians as well. By the end of the battle, the book shop is destroyed, Perrenelle’s been kidnapped, the Codex has been stolen, and Sophie and Josh are in grave danger. Turns out Nick Fleming is actually Nicholas Flamel, an alchemist who was thought to have died in 1418. (An alchemist is like a chemist, only searching for magical formulas to turn lead into gold and such.) He discovered the formula for immortality and he and his wife have been taking it monthly for seven hundred years. He was guarding the Codex, an ancient book containing secrets that could destroy the world in the wrong hands, hands like those of Dr. John Dee. Nick, Sophie, and Josh have to get out of the city, so Nick turns to his friend Scatty, a two-thousand-year-old warrior who trained all of the great warriors of history and mythology and kept the face and body of a seventeen-year-old-girl. Josh and Sophie are going to start discovering that a lot of the stories they thought were myth and legend actually took place and legendary figures still exist and act in our world. Furthermore, the twins are about to find themselves at the center of the greatest legend of all.

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Would you become immortal if you had the chance?
  2. If you had to make the decision about whether or not to Awaken the twins, what would you do?
  3. If you had the chance to be Awakened, would you take it?
  4. One important task for fantasy writers is to build a believable world while still moving the story forward. How did Michael Scott do this? Was he successful?
  5. Who is your favorite character? Which characters from myth would you like to see in the story?
  6. Josh and Sophie both have doubts about Nicholas. Why don’t they trust him sometimes? Do you think he’s trustworthy?
  7. Think about the alliances in the book. Why does Dr. John Dee work for the Dark Elders? Why do Scathach, Hekate, and the Witch of Endor help Nicholas and the twins?
  8. Nicholas and Perrenelle Flamel were real people. There are streets and hospitals in Paris named after them. Dr. John Dee was also a real person, the most famous alchemist and astrologer of his age. How does the factual basis affect how you read this story?
  9. What are your predictions for the next book in the series? Now go find out in Book 2 of the Secrets of Nicholas Flamel, The Magician!

If you liked this book, try

  • The Magician by Michael Scott
  • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Magyk by Angie Sage
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.