• The Accidental Alchemist

  • By: Gigi Pandian
  • Narrated by: Julia Motyka
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (8,095 ratings)

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The Accidental Alchemist

By: Gigi Pandian
Narrated by: Julia Motyka
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Publisher's Summary

From USA Today best-selling author Gigi Pandian comes a modern tale of ancient intrigue.

Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can't help but notice she's picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-half-foot gargoyle - not to mention a master of French cuisine - and he needs Zoe's expertise to decipher a centuries-old text. Zoe, who's trying to put her old life behind her, isn't so sure she wants to reopen her alchemical past... until the dead man on her porch leaves her no choice.

Includes recipes!

©2015 Gigi Pandian (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about The Accidental Alchemist

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    4,324
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    2,426
  • 3 Stars
    945
  • 2 Stars
    275
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Performance
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  • 2 Stars
    93
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    60
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,840
  • 4 Stars
    2,121
  • 3 Stars
    966
  • 2 Stars
    296
  • 1 Stars
    167

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Brixton ruined this for me.

As others have noted, this novel has a good central idea. A lead character who is an alchemist with a specialty in plant alchemy? Newly moved to a charming old fixer upper in Portland, Oregon to start a new life? Exploring her charming and funky neighborhood, putting her house in order, getting going on her alchemy again after many years of neglect? A stow-away gargoyle with a significant health problem and a mysterious old book? The gargoyle is a masterful french chef who spends almost all his time adapting standard recipes into vegan ones, since our heroine is vegan? Sign me up!!!
Yet, in execution this story falls far short of it's potential. The only real good part of it is the the gargoyle, Dorian. The reader executes him perfectly, so that he is charming and endearing and suave. There is quite a bit of discussion about food here, and it's all wonderful as well. I have found myself searching for some of the recipes online because they sound so delicious. In other circumstances (like if the rest of the story was better) I would consider buying the physical book in order to access them.
However, outside of Dorian, there don't seem to be any attractive characters that make any impact. Some of the supporting characters seem like they could have been interesting, but we don't spend much time with them, and the main character, Zoe, doesn't seem to be able to hold the stage. She'd be nice enough in another book, maybe one written by Juliet Blackwell or Susan Wittig Albert, but written by this author she's not strong enough to be the lead. This allows Brixton, the 14 boy who breaks into Zoe's house almost as soon as the story starts, to take over the entire book. He's a jerk. I guess it's supposed to be ok with us that he's a jerk because his mom should have been arrested for neglect years ago? I feel bad for him because of his miserable parenting situation, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a selfish, abusive, entitled little git. I have no desire to spend time with him at all. Sometimes, with a character like this, an event will take place in the story that changes them into someone who actually adds something positive to the mix. In this case, however, I've got 3 hours and 40 minutes left of this story and he's just getting worse. Since the main character is weak and stupid, and the mysteries are weak and undeveloped, that leaves Dorian as the only attractive character that I care about in the entire book.
I want more from a book than this.

117 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

She's fictional, so, no, you can't slap her!

I wanted to like this, I really did. The premise seemed so promising: an ageless alchemist who's been hiding in plain sight for centuries, a living gargoyle with an mysterious alchemical text and a murder that may or may not have something to do with any of the above.
Unfortunately, Zoe Faust is without a doubt the MOST IRRITATING protaganist I've encountered in a long time (and I include Scarlet O'Hara in that list, so that tells you something!). People steamroller right over her at every turn and she just blithely goes on her merry way.
The gargoyle appears in her life demanding, not asking, for her help with the mysterious book. Then becomes irate when it is not her first priority. Then, when the book is stolen from her home, berates her for going out for a walk (if it's such a priority, why didn't he safeguard it himself). And he uses her credit card, without her knowledge, to buy an espresso machine and subscription to Le Match (BTW when EVER has a subscription started arriving the next day???). Instead of telling him where to put his precious book, she tells him to ask next time if he wants to buy something and has a cup of tea.
A teenage boy breaks into her home and eavesdrops on her & the gargoyle. He, in her presence, openly snoops through her shelves and cupboards. Then attempts to manipulate her into teaching him alchemy. Then RECORDS the gargoyle cooking, so he can prove the gargoyle is real. Then lets himself into her Airstream trailer "looking for a snack." And, instead of sending down the road with a flea in his ear, she bandages the arm he cut breaking in and has a cup of tea.
For someone who has lived as long as she has, she is remarkably clueless. And allows far too many liberties as far as I'm concerned. How on earth has she managed to survive as long as she has?
There's being agreeable and being a doormat. Zoe is a doormat.
And she drinks a lot of tea.
There is a LOT of discussion of vegan menus, vegan cooking, vegan food options. And I gather there are recipes at the end of the hardcopy (I haven't gotten to the end yet, so I don't know if they're included in the audiobook recording).
There is some interesting information about alchemy, but not a lot.
Oh, I forgot about the murder... Which isn't surprising because, by and large, Zoe does, too. A man is murdered on her porch and her house is burglarized at the exact same time. Does she take any precautions? No, she goes wandering alone through the woods and stops to have a cup of tea. She doesn't even deal with her lock situation for a couple days.
I'm only sticking with it to the end, because I AM curious about that - but will be gritting my teeth every time Zoe allows people to just walk all over her. Maybe I'll start my own drinking game and have a drink whenever anyone mentions that she's vegan.
And, when I'm done, I will likely delete it from my iPod.

85 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantasy, Romance, —and Cooking

Any additional comments?

This was a fun, light listen, helped along by the narration of Julia Motyka who has a brilliant sense of rhythm and character.

If you're looking for "hard fantasy" with wizarding duels and ultimate struggles between good and evil, you should look elsewhere. What you get here is a pleasant fantasy that sticks to the plausible, but not the real.

"The Accidental Alchemist" has a lot packed into it; fantasy, romance, mystery, —and cooking? Yes, at the heart of the story is the equation of alchemy and herbal vegan cookery which, when you think about it, might be the closest modern equivalent to turning lead into gold (though sometimes the reverse as well).

The characters in this audiobook are what will keep you coming back. The realest and most endearing being the most unlikely—a gargoyle who loves cooking and Agatha Christie mysteries, but is in danger of being trapped in stone. Would that most books had more human characters that charming and sympathetic.

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mystery or Cookbook?

If I wanted to read about food I would have purchased a cookbook. I really felt like this was propaganda for Veganism. I have nothing against being a vegan but you don't have to give me every breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu throughout the book. It could have been a good mystery if all the recipes were not included.

69 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting premise, mediocre story.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed Julia Motyka's narration very much. However, the story didn't hold my interest. The pace of the story moved so slowly that by the end I really didn't care who stole the book. If the characters had talked about one more meal or cup of tea...well, I was ready to scream with frustration! A very disappointing end to a promising beginning.

58 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

The Accidental Alchemist

The narrator was good, but the story did not grab me. It read like a YA novel. The constant mentioning of veganism was very preachy and didn't add to the story at all.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good, but a little frustrating

The performance of this book was terrific. I would happily read more books performed by this narrator. The story was promising, but slightly annoying in that the character continually 'forgot' things, or couldn't quite figure things out. This made her character being am alchemist a lot less believable... but, it's a story with a gargoyle, so...

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Seriously?

What was most disappointing about Gigi Pandian’s story?

The story line seemed like something a college freshman would come up with.

What character would you cut from The Accidental Alchemist?

No likable characters

Any additional comments?

A miniature French gargoyle who learned to cook from a blind chef?
An alchemist who can't read a book about alchemy?
Teenagers making the same moronic mistakes over and over? - Well, I'll give you that one.
Vegan food in every chapter that supposedly taste gourmet?
A simple mystery which drags so slowly, why you ask? See above.

The narration is good, Julia struggles with some of the male character, especially the shoddy French accent, but that's hardly her fault. I'm almost quit listening, but I kept thinking it would speed up, unfortunately, the story stayed slow and juvenile.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I, I, AND THEN I, AFTER I, I, I

I'M NOT A COFFEE PERSON
What is more unbelievable than a gargoyle? How about a Tea shop in Portland Oregon, that sells only tea, never coffee. It takes a long time to brew the tea, so you must be willing to wait. That seems hard to believe to me.

GARGOYLE
I bought this because of the gargoyle. I thought either he'll be warm and fuzzy, or a taciturn grump or kind of simple and a comic relief. It turns out gargoyles don't have a personality. They are the same animated as they are as stone.

I,I,I,I,I,I,I
You know one good way go tell if a story is all about telling and nothing about showing? When 95% of the sentences start with the word I. I am also not a fan of the immediate love thing. She has known the gargoyle only an hour or two, but she really likes him and trust him. She eats only one meal cooked by him and no one else can hold a candle to his cooking. We know that she is an outcast because she says, "I am an outcast".

I did not think the narrator helped. With the exception of the French accent for the gargoyle, everyone else sounded the same. I also thought her timing was off for the few jokes.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Sub-par young adult

Sub-par young adult literature. Great reader but the plot is seriously lacking! Pass on this one!

35 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 06-11-15

excellent

What a pleasure when you find a really great book. The story has characters that you can relate to and follow with relish as it unfolds. I recommend wholeheartedly .

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Wren
  • 09-13-21

yuppy self satisfied trash for 12 year olds.

I listened to 20 mins and decided If you'd enjoy reading something along the lines of "omg I'm like so a wiccan vegan heroine but like, nobody gets me....I made myself a healthy ginsing and lemon grass smoothy and looked at Brad's handsome face and flashing eyes" then this is for you. For the rest of us maybe just enjoy the cover art and not bother with the book.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. N. D. Hudson
  • 08-27-21

I tried…

I tried and tried to get through this book - the concept of it was so appealing to me - however I finally gave up the ghost with only 2 hours left. I think another reviewer described it best; a bit Scooby Doo - however the narrator made is sound like a news reader was recounting the story - with a complete lack of suspense, emotion or exclamation marks! (So not quite so Scooby Doo after all). I don’t know whether it was the lack of character development, endless references to ‘erbs’ (herbs for any Brits reading) or the smug disposition of the ‘hero’ - but the combination of it all just killed it in the end for me. I still don’t know who the ‘culprit’ is and sadly I don’t care any more. The author however is clearly popular though so maybe it’s just not my cup of ‘erbal’ tea…

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jackie Burns
  • 04-27-16

Entertaining Urban Fantasy

Promised much, didn't quite deliver....but it was an entertaining performance. The narration by Julia Motyka was excellent. The story premise was excellent and, indeed, started off well, but everything started to slide down hill from two-thirds through the story. The reveal at the end was weak, to say the least. I was disappointed. I hope that the writing in the follow-up book in this series improves because, as I've said before, the premise is excellent, but I won't be purchasing it to find out. Once was enough.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • MoruCoru
  • 08-16-21

"I'm so quirky!" Said myself

I love a unique heroine but I would rather reach that conclusion myself through enjoying the story, instead of having to hear the main character constantly patting herself on the back. When you overdo it, Its just cringy.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Michelle
  • 09-17-21

How do you know if someone is a vegan?

O…M…G!!!!!
I’m guessing the author is a massive vegan! Every single opportunity to mention veganism, vegan food, vegan food swaps for eggs or milk or cheese is leapt upon with enthusiasm.
The story isn’t bad, but stop with the absolutely relentless vegan propaganda.
Normally this book would be right up my street, but I won’t be listening to any more of this author’s work, because by the end I wanted to scream as vegan cupcakes, or vegan eclairs were dropped unnecessarily into the story YET again.

However, if you’re vegan, dig in…. You’ll find it mouthwatering!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr Thomas W Doig
  • 08-30-21

You’re vegan…we get it

Overtly highlighting and over describing all of the ingredients in everything all of the time ruins the momentum of what is otherwise a decent read. Make a cookbook. I would buy it. But let your writing add depth to a character…not by highlighting they reach for “unsweetened cocoa”…

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. LoVecchio
  • 03-31-20

cosy mystery with a twist

fun and funny. with a gourmet French gargoyle and accompanying recipes there's a lot to love in this series

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • b k byrne
  • 08-23-21

story would be better without the vegan recipes

i liked the general story line but why so many in depth recipes it was unnecessary and seemed like story padding.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • 08-19-21

Awesome book

Great book, great performance and I like the concept. Would give a perfect 5 stars but for one thing...

Dorian is technically a grotesque. Gargoyles had water spouts sticking out their mouth and were used as gutter decoration.

Common mistake but it drove me made throughout this book. I know it's a bit nit picky but if this is the biggest complaint I have... You are doing well.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Rebeca B.
  • 10-10-21

Love this story

I was really taken from the start of this series. Just wow.. the performance is fabulous and the story keeps you enthralled from the beginning. The characters develop up as they move through the Storyline and I am a sucker for fantasy and reality or what I would call mystical realism. Will purchase the rest as I would like to see where it takes me. I absolutely love the fact that it is a stand alone book ad well.. with a solid end .

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-20-19

The gargoyle is awesome

...but the constant, detailed descriptions of every single thing the protagonist ate became incredibly annoyibg.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaylon
  • 01-09-22

3.5 Stars

Ok, we get it. She's a vegan. I enjoyed the recipe descriptions (they sound delicious!) but the author REALLY wants you to know it's vegan. Got a tad old after awhile.
The story was not exactly fast paced, just hummed along. Enjoyable and the gargoyle was fun! The villain wasn't very exciting, definitely didn't come across as very villainous. Just a tad beige.
The narrator is fantastic, absolutely super voice.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily
  • 10-05-21

An interesting perspective

I really enjoyed the descriptions of smells it made me feel like I was sitting in a cottage with herbs all around me and tea brewing nearby. the story takes its time in a good way without feeling rushed or sudden, this is the kind of book you read to relax.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-29-22

An easy read with some flaws

It's a sweet, easy listening story with a young adult feel to it. It sounds sophisticated with its historical references to alchemy but it lacks substance. Nothing terrible, with one exception, but no Pulitzer nominee either. Good for a light bedtime listen. The main thing I loathed was the hard selling of healthy living and veganism, with what felt like passive aggressive digs at coffee and meat. I support healthy living but way too much time was devoted to describing vegan recipes in a manner that felt fundamentalist. If the author's goal was to promote veganism, its effect was to put me off (and I am pro plant based diets as a choice).

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-18-22

Drivel

The reading is fine. I enjoyed the narrator's voice and her plausible French accent for the gargoyle. But I simply gave up on the story. Fabulous premise. Dull and distracted execution, full of irrelevant modern American vegan attitude. Obsessed with detail of food, beverages, and clothing. That isn't what the book is about, and I found it teeth grittingly tedious. Literally clenching my jaw till I could take it no more. Waste of time. Thank goodness I didn't waste a credit on it. I rarely, very rarely give up on a book, but I couldn't stomach this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-07-22

Excellent book

Had me hooked from the first paragraph. An excellent book. Can't wait to read the whole series.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-05-22

Enjoyable

It’s simple and engaging. The descriptions of food were like an advertisement for what can be achieved with exclusively plant based ingredients. Amusing references to Portland culture. Really outstanding narration.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-03-22

Loved it.

Not my usual reading genre but so glad I listened to it.
I absolutely loved it! What an inventive mind to come up with this story and somehow make it sound plausible.
Of course I loved Dorian...who wouldn't?🙂
I didn't mind the many details of the veganism as it is really part of the story.
The narration was perfect. Highly recommend.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • anne martin
  • 08-29-22

A must listen to

Loved this story. The characters have great personalities. I look forward to listening to the other books in this series and see where things go.