This review was completed by Michael Cummings, staff review with the YA Fantasy Guide.Pevel returns to seventeenth century France in this second novel of the Cardinal's Blades. A new threat rises to threaten the future of France. La Donna, an Italian spy known for her subterfuge and intrigue and, of course, inescapable and beguiling beauty, possesses information of a plot against the King and is willing to share it, for a price. As a French adventure story that is supposed to remind us of Dumas - if Alexandre had had a penchant for dragons, dragonnettes, and dracs running rampant in the streets of Paris and the French countryside alongside the musketeers, that is - Pevel succeeds. There is a flavor to this novel that is very reminiscent of nineteenth century adventure novels, doused liberally with fantasy elements. This novel isn't without its difficulties, though. As a sequel, it stumbles a little. Certain revelations from the first book are largely ignored in this sequel, a flaw that only can be overlooked thanks to stronger writing on Pevel's part. The reader has to be prepared to do a little bit of work as Pevel traces a path through Paris street by street in what can be a confusing list of streets. Pevel, like Dumas (but sometimes without the same grace), suffers the crime of random information dumps, which mire this story in unnecessary complexity at times. Too much information, especially when revealed in a story utilizing the third person omniscience of the all knowing, all seeing, all explaining author, lends a detachment to the reader that makes it difficult to invest fully in the characters. "The Alchemist in the Shadows" is a good read, but you may have to work for it a little bit. .