The Scarlet Alchemist Readalong: Day 1!


Beautiful photo by @aaliyahsbookshelf._!

Hello fairy friends!

Happy Monday and welcome to day 1 of our readalong of The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee BakerI’m so excited to be reading this one with you, I hope you all love it!

Before we get into the book, how are we all doing today? I hope you all had a wonderful weekend full of amazing books and cosy vibes!

Since today is day 1, we’ll be reading from the beginning to the end of Chapter 7. It’s time to get comfy and cosy with our book and get started!

When you’ve finished today’s section, catch up with me in the comments down below so we can discuss the beginning of the book. Happy reading!

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for The Scarlet Alchemist by Kylie Lee Baker from the beginning to Chapter 7. Please only read on if you have finished this section!


Okay firstly, that has to be one of the best prologues I have ever read. As soon as I read the very first paragraph I could instantly picture the setting so clearly and I was hooked!

“I am the night that birthed the world. I am the bones of all the planets. I am silence. I am the end.”

After finishing the prologue I already have SO many questions and can’t wait to continue reading!

We meet our main character Zilan and we learn she is an orphan living with her aunt, uncle and cousins. She helps out in their shop where she also practices Forbidden Life Alchemy behind their backs. That sounds intense.

It is also revealed that ten years prior when her mother was on her death bed her farther disappeared…

Through practicing Forbidden Life Alchemy Zilan can bring the recently deceased back to life. A customer comes into the store requesting she bring his brother back from the dead to which she agrees for a large fee.

“I don’t want your prayers, I just want your money.” Honestly? I love her.

We meet her cousins Wenshu and Yufei who help her in secret with any illegal jobs using Forbidden Life Alchemy. The three of them are studying for the civil service exam to move to the capital where Zilan hopes to become one of the Royal Court Alchemists.

Zilan’s father came from the West to China due to its advanced alchemy practices, where he met her mother. Before disappearing he left alchemy notes behind for Zilan which led her on the path she is currently on. Is anybody else wondering if the reason he disappeared was to try and find a way to save her but something happened? I’m sensing a plot twist or mystery coming related to her father…

Okay, I am now officially a Yufei stan. Bludgeoning men with sweet potatoes because they were romantically interested in you and wouldn’t leave you alone is kind of iconic if you ask me.

Honestly, I love these characters already. “Zilan do try your best not to murder people while we’re doing errands.” They are so amusing!

Is anyone else wondering if Zilan’s fainting has to do with the forbidden life alchemy or something more?👀 

With both of her cousin’s help, Zilan manages to bring her customer’s brother back to life, but at what cost? Surely this type of alchemy will have a negative and long-lasting effect on her? I feel like something might go wrong soon…

Although I must say it was super interesting to visualise how she performs forbidden life alchemy and the depiction of qi. The magic system is so captivating; learning more about the laws of alchemy and different stones in this world is making it so unpredictable and I love that!

I also find it odd how her farther was researching the same thing she now practices and she is still unaware of the true cost of using such alchemy.

Zilan meets a man from Chang’an who turns out to have been searching for her; he had heard of a “Hunxie in Guangzhou who is a great alchemist.” He tells her that he can’t use the royal alchemists in Chang’an and needs her help.

Despite being an outsider and a stranger, Zilan can’t resist the 100,00 gold he offers for her help. But plot twist! It’s himself he needs her to help resurrect as he doesn’t think he will be alive for much longer but won’t explain why. I’m sensing an assassination plot, but who is this mystery man?

Our mystery guy wants her to leave with him immediately to Chang’an but she refuses as she has the alchemy exam and her family to support; telling him she will only go to Chang’an to help him in two weeks otherwise he can find someone else.

A very random theory and probably not at all correct- Zilan has mentioned that both her aunt and uncle are sick and that her mother had died of a similar sickness… so what if the practising of Forbidden Life Alchemy that she and her father partook in is what makes certain people surrounding them sick? and that is the cost of using it. Hmmm… what do you think?

As part of the alchemy exam, Zilan has to enter a cage and break free within an hour, but it is no ordinary cage and the guards decide not to give her the stones she needs to complete the task.

But because our main character is no ordinary girl when one of the other alchemists who has completed the exam grabs her through the bars of her cage, she stabs his wrist and uses his blood to perform alchemy and escape from the cage albeit too late.

We end today’s reading by finding out Zilan somehow made the list and is going to Chang’an with her cousins who also passed the exam!

Well, that was quite the start, wasn’t it?! I am desperate to know what happens next when they arrive at Chang’an and can’t wait for tomorrow’s reading! I love these characters so much.

What are your thoughts so far?

Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?

Who do we think the mysterious man could be?

Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?

See you tomorrow for another day of reading!





  • Valley

    I’m a fan (heh) of Zilan and her cousins. I really like how unhinged Zilan and Yufei are in their different ways. And also how unexpectedly graphic those scenes are with the resurrection and the alchemy exam.

    I’m excited to learn more about the mysteries surrounding Zilan’s father’s disappearance, the mysterious man, Zilan’s fainting spells, and the price of life alchemy.

    Based on the amount of gold the mysterious man offered, it’s likely he’s some sort of royal… possibly a prince or something?

    Zilan’s fainting spells might have something to do with the price of life alchemy. Her father’s disappearance is probably related as well. The content of her dreams/hallucinations makes it seem like there might be a reincarnation trope going on here… for some reason, I’m also thinking that her father might be stuck in another realm, perhaps in search of her mother?

  • Selina

    Such an exciting start to this book! I’m already super invested in Zilan’s journey and can’t wait to find out more about the magic system.

    I’m pretty sure we’ll see her father at some point in the book, maybe he left to protect her from the effects of his own life alchemy? 👀

    I’m really curious about who the mysterious man is since he can’t just go to the royal alchemists in the city. I’d love to see what secrets he has and how they correlate to Zilan.

    Zilan’s fainting could potentially be starting effects of her alchemy, I need her to be protected at all costs though as I’ve gotten attached after that cage scene 🥲

    • Jodie

      Yes! There are so many exciting and interesting things happening already I am super intrigued! So many good theories… 👀

  • j.iris

    I can already tell I’m gonna love this book so much! The relationship between Zilan, Wenshu and Yufei is the perfect combination of sweet and unhinged. And I rarely see a YA book where the main focus are familial relationships, not romantic ones (though I’m not at all opposed to a romantic subplot as well).

    The resurrection scene was definitely the best, the way the whole scene is described, as well as the qi spring. It’s my favourite scene so far (and I love how we go from eerily described scenes like this one to Zilan’s antics in the span of a couple paragraphs).

    Mysteries, mysteries, there’s a ton of mysteries introduced so early! I have a theory that her father didn’t actually leave of his own accord; it’s pretty clear from the beginning that forbidden life alchemy is forbidden for a reason. And the fact that he left behind notes so detailed Zilan self-taught herself life alchemy means there may be other people out for this secret.

    I agree with everyone else that the mysterious man is probably a Royal from the capital, he references Royal Alchemists and I imagine only Royals would have access to them. As for why he requests Zilan’s help, I imagine he either fears for his life and needs someone who knows resurrection alchemy on hand, or perhaps he needs to fake his death very very convincingly.

    I can’t wait to read the next section, to see if Zilan reaches the capital and maybe meets again with that mysterious stranger.

  • Tasha

    What are your thoughts so far?
    Really enjoyed the first section and feel a connection to all three characters.❤️

    Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?
    I do – I think he left to get help for the mother but something happened along the way – I don’t just think he disappeared on purpose.

    Who do we think the mysterious man could be?
    As others have guessed someone high up like a royal perhaps related to the original empress.

    Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?
    Nothing concrete as yet perhaps something connected to her alchemy work or her father (genetic) 🤔

    Looking forward to the next section tomorrow

  • feedmefairytales

    Whew what a ride so far!! Honestly I did not expect it to be this exciting already! I was shocked when I read the part about the exam in the cage, but our girl is definitely a fierce character and I love that!

    Yes I think her father’s disappearance will definitely play a role later on!

    As for the mysterious man… I don’t know. But he has to be very rich, considering what he offered her!

    I think her fainting spells might have something to do with the fact that her magic is forbidden/dark?? I hope she will be okay though!

    • Jodie

      Yes, I love our main character too! Ooooo I love that theory! 🖤

  • Bec @Booktineus

    I’m finally able to join a readalong on time again! Now, questions:

    What are your thoughts so far?

    I’m really enjoying it! I love books about alchemy and necromancy so I’m here for the magic. Also, it’s been too long since I read a good historical fantasy.

    Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?

    100%. If not this book, then in the sequel(s).

    Who do we think the mysterious man could be?

    Definitely a noble or someone important to the court. I want to say a prince, but that’s a full on assumption.

    Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?

    To me it sounded like a hypoglycemic episode (just the way her cousins made her eat fruits after) and maybe if it was diabetes. But it could also be a magical reason to do with alchemy… Maybe this is the negative effect the alchemy draws from her for raising corpses (she did say she wasn’t sure what the payment for raising the dead was, or what negative effects it had in the future).

  • tomaskristinak

    I was excited to start reading this book as it was on my TBR list. 🙂

    I’m not sure what it was, maybe amazing writing or story or maybe both, but I was glued to the book from the first page. The magical system and how it works is totally new to me and it was a little bit confusing (mostly because I don’t know all the types of stones), but I was wowed by this new idea, well done. I’m excited to learn more about it.

    I like Zilan, she seems to be smart and strong. She was thinking long term rather than short term when the mysterious guy offered her so much money (love interest? oh so exciting). Plus her cousins are great characters, I like how they love and support each other. I felt emotional when she described how they call her sister even she is cousin, that was so touching.
    I felt really angry at how everyone treated her at the alchemy exam and when she used the blood to get out, I was like yeaaah well done, you are amazing.

    I think the cost of forbidden magic is sickness of her aunt and uncle (that was my first feeling and thought). It might have to do something with her fainting, but it might have something to do with her powerful magic (maybe she is much stronger once she lets go?). At the same time I was thinking, if it is forbidden magic and cost is unknown, shouldn’t she charge much more than 500/600 golds? I went into my accounting brain and was thinking if the mysterious guy offered her 100 000 golds and that would last 2 years (960 gold per week), then she is undercharging by a lot. (sorry for this overthinking haha 😀 )

    I love how author is able to make me feel all the emotions while reading and forget the world around. I am so excited to continue reading, hope it will continue strong.

  • Rachel Mair

    This is my first box and I’m loving the book so far. It’s keeping me hooked and has very likeable characters.

    I think her father’s disappearance will have a big part later – I think he’s most likely going to show up later in the book and all will be revealed.

    The mystery man maybe is one of the royal alchemists or used to be? Or potentially that people in his family are and he’s seen what happens.

    Zilan fainting could be a side affect of her alchemy or something to do with what happened in the prologue.

    Can’t wait to continue reading😊

    • Jodie

      Yay, very happy to hear you are loving the book so far! 🥰 I also wonder if it’s to do with the forbidden life alchemy, I hope we learn more soon!

  • Emily Sinding

    I am so hooked after that start.

    When Zilan “failed” the competition, I thought that she’d find the stranger who tried to hire her and go to the capital with him, so I was so surprised and intrigued when she passed test.
    I absolutely think that the stranger will appear again in the story. I think he’ll play an important role later. I’m also so curious about why he thinks he’s going to die.

    I definitely think that we’ll find out what happened her father, but I’m not convinced we’ll actually meet him. It would be cruel irony if the man who discovered how to bring people back from the dead had died before he could let others know his discovery.

    I think that Zilan’s fainting is somehow connected with the storyline about her father. I’m not sure how they connect yet, but it intrigues me that in the prologue it says that after one of Zilan’s fainting spells, her parents were looking at her differently, waiting for something. Whatever they were waiting for has to be connected to the reason for her fainting.

    I can’t wait for the rest of the book!

  • Alex Shaffer

    What are your thoughts so far?
    I like the book so far! I don’t know if nice is the right word, but I appreciate reading about a magic system with a price to pay. It seems to make the book darker.

    Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?
    Probably. It’s too soon to tell.

    Who do we think the mysterious man could be?
    Probably royalty. The prince perhaps.

    Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?
    Like others have mentioned, maybe it has something to do with price of life alchemy. I’m sure we’ll find out!

  • ladymeg

    1) Xilan is *a little* unhinged. The visual of her raving at everyone covered in blood at her test. Wow.

    2) Not sure about a big part but some part yes.

    3) A prince? This story needs a prince yeah?

    4) Not yet but I’m waiting for it to happen at a more inopportune moment, especially if Wenshu and Yufei aren’t around to help her.

  • danica.brnot

    Zilan and her cousins have me hooked especialy hoe Zilan and Yufei are so sassy and brave love the girl power.

    The magic sistem is super interesting I am mostly intigued by the use of crystals since I am to interested in crystals so I love reading what the author writes about them.

    I would have to agree with the others that the stranger has to be a royal and maybe he thinks that he is gonna get assasinated and can’t exacly get the help from the royal alchamists since they could be involved

    As for her fainting it could be the price of ressurection it could be that she has to loose some time of her life each time she brings someone back to life or maybe that each time she does it it takes too much out of her and her body cant handel it without reseting.

    I can’t wait to see what will happen next and how she handels it.

  • Rachelle H.

    I’m already so hooked on this book. The writing is STUNNING, some of the metaphors are just so wonderfully written! I’m really in love with the magic system and how alchemy works, the resurrection scene and the description of the rivers of qi is so fascinating and unique and I’m really excited about it.

    Zilan is a really interesting protagonist and I love Yufei and Wenshu a lot too. They have such a fun dynamic and each of them feel really distinct! I think it’ll be interesting to see how this changes now that they’ve all passed the test.

    I am concerned about Zilans fainting. Resurrection is a HUGE feat and there MUST be same insane price she’s either paying or will have to pay ahhhh I wanna see her father show up again?? Cause maybe he knows? Or it could have to do with her fainting? Though I feel like there is more to it than just that… looking forward to day 2!!

  • sparks2much

    I have to say, I’m hooked! The beginning set up this lighthearted banter between Yufei, Wenshu and Zilan. It really helped me to connect to the story before the horror of the trials began. I can’t wait to see how she passed her trials!!!

  • DeeAnna

    I’m loving them all so far! Zilan seems so feisty. I’m just loving her whole character so far. And her cousins are the best. I love their banter.
    Still not sure about her family’s story, but I think it will be part of Zilan’s story somehow. Maybe you are on to something with that theory.
    I have a feeling our mystery man may be our love interest… I’m just wondering how he thinks he’s going to die and why.
    I’m excited to keep reading and find out more.

  • Lisa Spanu

    1. What are your thoughts so far?
    I’m intrigued and really liking it so far!

    2. Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?
    I think it will

    3. Who do we think the mysterious man could be?
    I’m hoping the love interest?

    4. Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?
    Maybe she uses to many powers on her own, which becomes too much and causes the fainting

  • dzsuud

    Don’t want to sound too dramatic but Zilan is my new favourite MC. 😀 I love how she views life, survival and providing to her family is everything for her and she is not ready to drop everything to help a random stranger to ruin her chances at becoming an alchemist.

    Ahhh and Yufei, the bestie/sister everyone deserves, honestly.

    I really love how the book depicts the gory parts, everything is so realistic (and disgusting)!

  • Anna Parks

    What are your thoughts so far?

    I am loving the book so far! Great intro and I love the characters.

    Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?


    Who do we think the mysterious man could be?

    Someone important later on in the story, I dont think this will be the last time Zilan sees him.

    Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?

    I think it has something either to do with her alchemy or with her mother dying and father disapearing.

  • susy34633

    I’m really liking the way this book is going. It has me hooked from the beginning. The three cousins are such strong characters, that it makes the story flow so well.
    Wow! The forbidden alchemy is really something, but what are the costs? Is the fainting and weird dreams? The theory of making people around sick is a real possibility though.
    The strange man is very mysterious, how does he know he is going to die? And he heard of Zilan all the way in the capital?
    I’m pretty sure they are going to meet again and be a main plot of the story.
    I guess we will have to wait a while to find out why her father disappeared, did he became a royal alchemist or got imprisoned because of his research? 🧐
    Great start!

  • Amelia Jayne

    I’m a little bit late to the party but better late than never!

    I wasn’t super excited for this one but I sped through that first section and now I’m hooked. I’m loving the cousin trio!! I feel like they will have such a great power bond throughout and hopefully, they will all get to use their strengths..

    Do you think her father’s mysterious disappearance will have a big part to play later in the book?
    Definitely! I feel like it has something to do with the life alchemy being dark magic, maybe her father was also performing it and was caught? I’m not sure but I think there is definitely going to be more on this throughout.

    Who do we think the mysterious man could be?
    Some prince or royal maybe, just based on the amount. Or someone who want to basically pay to keep his identity concealed because of the forbidden magic aspect.

    Do you have any theories about why Zilan faints?
    I think this has to do with the forbidden magic, maybe she resurrected someone when she was really young and it has affected her in later life, or maybe that’s the price she pays – by resurrecting others she kills a little bit of herself each time.

    Can’t wait for the next section.

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12th July 2024

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