Mercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle


Something venomous has come to Temperance …It’s been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance’s resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens.

Unlike some, the Sisters don’t want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters’ own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind in this action-packed sequel to Dark Alchemy.

*I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

Mercury Retrograde is an excellent addition to the Dark Alchemy series by Laura Bickle. I enjoyed this one as much as the first book. My attention was captured on the first page. I never lost interest throughout the story. It was fast-paced, exciting, dark at times, and humorous at other times. It’s a great mixture of a thriller, romance, and a dark fantasy, with a unique cast of characters and an atypical setting.

I enjoyed how Laura Bickle mixed different mythologies with alchemy. For example, she tied the mythological creature, the basilisk, into a new system of magic by showing how the basilisk was represented by an alchemical symbol. To me, everything fit together and made sense. The author even gave a reasonable explanation for why a geologist would be asked to hunt down a giant snake.

I also liked how the author worked in enough backstory for new readers to jump into the series. It is not necessary to read the first book, although I do suggest it because it’s a great book.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the mixing in of geology such as seismic disturbances and geothermic activity coinciding with the awakening of the basilisk.

Petra is an interesting character, much different from many other fantasy heroines, because she doesn’t have any special gifts or abilities, perhaps except for being able to travel to the spirit world on occasion. For the most part, Petra is ignorant when it comes to magic.

I thought there was a good set up for the next book in the series. The main threads of this book were wrapped up, so I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger. However, the author introduced some new problems at the end that got me excited about reading the next book when it comes out. There was one thing that was left hanging–Petra’s unusually high white blood cell count–that I hope will be resolved in the next book.

My favorite line of the book was at 84%: “This could, quite possibly, be the dumbest thing she’d ever done: pursuing a poisonous basilisk into a cave during an earthquake in the company of a bunch of dead guys, armed with a potato cannon and a six-pack of lye.”

I strongly suggest reading Mercury Retrograde. I give it 5 stars for intense action, believable scenarios, and a satisfying conclusion.

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams. Her newest release is NINE OF STARS, out December 27 from Harper Voyager. The latest info on her work can be found at

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