3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars. A fun steampunk debut novel. I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued by all things steampunk. Having heard some great things about this debut author, I just had to read this book. I was drawn to the lovely cover – The Eiffel Tower, airships, strange runes – the book looked like it was full of win for me. I was not disappointed. I adored the world created by this author. Set in both France and England at the turn of the 20th century, the story follows a young woman named Eleanor (Elle) Chance. Elle has the unlikely occupation of an airship pilot (I love her already!). Elle is quite the heroine: she is feisty, street smart, has excellent mechanical skills, and she has quite an interesting family tree. The world of A Conspiracy of Alchemists combined magic, steampunk, the fae, alchemists, secret brotherhoods, and even pirates for an exciting, page-turning read. The steampunk elements were well done and very clever and fanciful. I loved how almost every steam powered machine could be relied upon to brew a cup of tea. Brilliant! The opium dens were well described and I liked the idea of absinthe fairies living inside of jewels. The airship chase scenes were both hairy and exciting. While I didn’t pick this book up expecting a romance, I was pleasantly surprised by the interactions between Hugh and Elle. It was fun watching their friendship develop.A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a wonderful debut by author Liesel Scharz. There is a second book planned for this series. A Clockwork Heart is scheduled to be released August 20, 2013. I can’t wait!Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for a review copy of this book.