South Side Alchemy by J.M. Sawyer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man seeking a temporary escape from the responsibilities of life finds intrigue and mystery surrounding him as he escapes to the circus for a night, only to find himself immersed in dangers that threaten his future and force him to confront his past in author J.M. Sawyer’s “South Side Alchemy”.


The Synopsis

Jordan Peele’s Get Out meets Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Henry Lewis needed a temporary escape from his life. His job, home, and family have become the shackles that bind him in the prison of his mind. He longs to be free of it. . . for at least a little while. When Henry learns the circus has arrived in his Bronzeville neighborhood, he sneaks away in the night, hoping to find a brief escape from his troubles. With a world of distractions all around him, he finally feels free. But the circus paints a bright facade over a dark past, and the freer he feels, the more bound he becomes. He needs to break away. But before he can save his future, he’ll have to discover the sinister truth about his past. The stakes are high, and time is running out.

The Review

This was such a powerful and moving story. The blend of suspense and horror with edge-of-your-seat thriller and a hint of magic made this novel flow and kept me engaged throughout the story. The rich settings of this story, set in a particular historical period that gave readers a unique point of view that is rarely explored, were brought to life through powerfully vivid imagery and made the atmosphere feel thicker with tension.

For me, the psychologically and emotionally complex social and historical themes that were brought to life through dynamic character development made this a one-of-a-kind read. The protagonist’s journey and everything he endured were pushed to reflect the haunting history of the Black community and the chilling realities that very few people will ever know or understand. The dynamics between his interactions with the circus folks and the “real-world” people he interacted with not only mirrored the themes of segregation and social dynamics but the powerful effects that the events of the narrative began to have on his own psyche. 

The Verdict

Powerful, engaging, and thought-provoking, author J.M. Sawyer’s “South Side Alchemy” is a must-read suspense and horror thriller you won’t want to miss. The twists and turns in this story feel like a Jordan Peele movie bleeding into historical fiction and magical surrealism novel with a few elements of It’s a Wonderful Life thrown in for good measure, making this one novel that readers won’t want to miss this year. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

J. M. Sawyer is an author of adult suspense and horror novels. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, in Political Science from Seton Hall University and his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law. Formerly a criminal defense attorney, his road to publication was anything but conventional. It was during trial preparation that he learned his true calling was that of a storyteller and his true talent was plotting complex, multi-layered narratives that will keep readers turning pages until the very end. Those are the stories that shaped his love of books, so those are the stories he endeavors to tell. A New Jersey native, he now lives in Michigan with his wife, Nora, and his two sons, Jesse and Alexander.


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