ARC Review: The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
Series: Potion #1
Released: 2nd July 2015
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

 Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company?

Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

The Potion Diaries is a fine example of magical realism in a creative and adventurous story with a hint of humour in the mix. This is a book which yes, I did find a little strange at first, though once the real action began the pages started to fly by. It's not exactly a story that's 'hardcore' fantasy by any means, yet by incorporating elements of our own world into one where alchemy and magic prevails, I still found it quite engaging.

If Harry Potter taught us anything - it's that a) potions can be temperamental to make, and b) love potions are both difficult to get right and dangerous if used incorrectly. In this story, a love potion has had an affect on the Princess in the Novaen Kingdom in a much different way than expected. Usually one would think that such a potion would, you know, work on someone else. But what made this book so quirky is that the Princess....falls in love with HERSELF - or at least, her own alter-ego. Now this is just one small aspect of the novel as a whole and I don't want to give too much away, but some of the sections from Princess Evelyn's POV were just plain hilarious. I really liked the light-heartedness of the plot as whole, and though there were some aspects which I would have preferred to see more 'flow' in, it still kept me engaged.

Samantha Kemi works with her Granddad as an alchemist with their old-fashioned ways, and is summoned to 'The Hunt' among other competitors to find a cure for the princess. Contrasting 'traditional' methods of making potions with the 'synths' used by big corporations like ZA was a nice choice in differentiating the magic world. The magical world and the real world didn't seem to be interacting all too seamlessly from the start, but I suppose the focus really is on this supernatural side of things anyway. Sam was a pretty well-developed character, and it was nice to get to know the rest of her family, especially her grandfather who was quite an interesting one. Her relationships with her sister, her Finder Kristy and her parents, along with some glimpse at a romance further along added some depth and made the plot more realistic.

The bulk of the novel though is the adventure element - a race against time to find the ingredients for the love potion cure. There is a battle between good and evil, mistakes are made, friendships are tested and even lives are at stake. Through it all, Sam's knowledge of what typical ingredients could be used and their purpose in potions were great in terms of world-building. Although some scenes were bordering on the melodramatic and cheesy side, there was a sense of satisfaction at the ending, and I'm sure more will be revealed as to what happens next in the second book of the series. 


The Potion Diaries is a light and enjoyable read which will transport you into a world like our own, but with something refreshingly magical. Though it wasn't perfect, this book ticked most of the boxes for me and its quirky charm makes for a spellbinding read.


  1. I just won a copy of this book on Goodreads, so I am really happy to see you enjoyed it. This seems like a really light and fun read and I am looking forward to being able to read it.

    1. I hope you enjoy it too Charnell - it was just the light and quirky read I was looking for :)

  2. Yay, I'm glad you liked it! I had a terrible time with this one...but I think I'm too analytical and into hardcore-fantasy to really appreciate something so light and...giggly? I mean, it was cute! It just didn't sit right for me. xD My review definitely called for Snape gifs. HAHAH. The idea of books centered around potions is great.

    1. No worries Cait, everyone is bound to have different opinions on a book. Ah yes - Snape gifs would be perfect for this! (Harry Potter has gifs for everything :)

  3. The light tone of this book did wonders for me too. And I agree that Princess Evelyn's POVs were quite hilarious. Fantastic review! I'm glad someone else enjoyed this book. :)

    1. Thanks Rachel! It was just such an easy read, and I loved the lighthearted nature of it too. Thanks for stopping by!


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