The Alchemist’s Dream is a YA novel by John Wilson set during the exploration for a Northwest Passage. When a greedy sailor returns to London from a voyage to Hudson’s Bay in 1669 and shows up at Robert Bylot’s door, Bylot is thrown into a whirlwind of memories. We follow Bylot through his life: meeting and studying with Dee, The Alchemist; Bylot’s desire to sail the oceans, and his friendships with explorers John Davis and Henry Hudson; and most of all — the truth behind the fateful journey in 1611 to find the pathway to the Pacific.
This novel was well-written and the story was complete, and it was a good read — I’d recommend it for children aged 8 – 12. I really liked the structure of the novel; It started at the beginning of the end in 1669, then flashed back to Robert Bylot’s childhood, his studies, his voyages, his journey with Hudson in 1611, and concluding by answering Bylot’s nagging question in his aged body: Did anyone live?
- BC Book Prizes (2008 Finalist)
- Canada Council for the Arts – Governor General’s Literary Award (2007 Finalist)
- Key Porter Books
- John Wilson’s Blog
- Blog for The Alchemist’s Dream
- One of the books from my Canadian Challenge 2 list
Full disclosure: I read a copy of the book that we received in the office. This situation did not affect my review in any way, shape or form.