What’s Sera Reading? The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

The book is part of a mystery series I did not know when I picked it up off our shelf in Stourport Library. Fortunately, The Accidental Alchemist is book 1.

Set in Portland, Oregon, the protagonist Zoe Faust has had a long life already but has headed to the USA from France for a new beginning. She sees a house that looks perfect, if not broken, for what she wants. Once purchased, Zoe sends for all her things. A stowaway from Paris is a shocking discovery. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing gargoyle who is turning back to stone. He needs Zoe’s help and for her to use alchemy she had long given up on. The story follows how Zoe and Dorian unlock the secrets of a centuries-old text left by his old master. This is complicated by a new young friend and a crime committed on her front porch.  Zoe realizes that the fastest way to regain her anonymity is to clear her name.

My Daughter and I have been reading this together. We are so happy with the lighthearted supernatural mystery. There is plenty for all in this story, not to mention some fine recipes for vegetarian cuisine. (as seen above, we gave it a go)  but at times, Pandian has juggled many layers of the plot, which can mess negatively with the pace of storytelling. An eccentric and endearing cast of characters that solve murder mysteries with roots in the supernatural and in Portland’s fascinating history. Great Stuff!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon Tahini Sauce.

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 large white onion (or substitute a smaller yellow onion; white onions are milder)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: ¼ cup raw pepitas, a.k.a shelled pumpkin seeds
  • Optional: paprika, for garnish

Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp granulated garlic (for a chunkier sauce, substitute 2 minced garlic cloves)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Optional: cayenne to taste


  • Preheat oven to 425. Peel the butternut squash and cut it into ½-inch cubes, discarding the seeds. Peel the onion and chop roughly. Toss squash and onion with olive oil, then spread out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle spices on top. Bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, stirring once after 20 minutes.
  • While the squash mixture is baking, prepare the sauce. Whisk all the sauce ingredients together, then taste to adjust for salt and spice levels.
  • Toast ¼ cup raw pepitas in a dry skillet on medium heat for a few minutes until they pop.
  • To serve: Transfer squash mixture to a serving bowl, drizzle with tahini sauce, toss pepitas on top, and sprinkle with a dash of paprika.

Published by BlueFalcon1983

YA Writer and illustrator

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