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Carly Ashdown (Author)
Alyssa Noelle Coelho (Author)

The Alchemy of The Beast

The Alchemy of The Beast

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Saved By Story Publishing
5.5 X 8.5 in
358 pg

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“I wept as time stopped, and I wept as time refused to cease.”

Grieving her faith, her love, and her identity, twenty-one-year-old Scarlett V. Leonelli is devastated by an unexpected tragedy—one threatening to unravel her to her very core. Following a series of inexplicable synchronicities, Scarlett journeys deep into the jungle of a hidden village in Costa Rica where, far beyond the only reality she has ever known, she is forced to trust the path as it appears beneath her feet.

Led by the sacred invitations in riddles of mysterious guides, romantic rendezvous, and enticing adventures, Scarlett falls into the belly of the Beast itself.

Will Scarlett give in or choose to alchemize one of humanity’s inevitable tragedies?

The Alchemy of The Beast is the first installation of The Lionheart Chronicles, a series inspired by author Alyssa Noelle Coelho’s own truth-seeking journey. Drawing upon her training in sociocultural anthropology and her own experiences as a Traveler, wrestling with the meaning of existence, love, connection, and contribution, Alyssa shines a light on the raw truths of the human condition and showcases the beauty of cultures worldwide. 

Carly Ashdown Alyssa Noelle Coelho
Author Bio

After sharing her first journey back to love in her 2016 #1 bestselling poetry compilation, CHOSEN, Death's breath sent twenty-one-year-old Alyssa on her first meaning-seeking mission around the world. Through her sociocultural anthropology training at UCSD and many seasons of disconnection with her soul and source, Alyssa unearthed some deeper truths behind the human experience and learned to alchemize her own tragedies into a greater sense of meaning and adventure.

A poet and novelist, dancer and world traveler, she has been passionately immersing herself in cultures worldwide, studying their traditions and transformations through the lens of meaning and purpose for years. A lover of novelty and a delighter in the extraordinary, Alyssa uses the power of words and stories to romance humans into falling in love with their precious existence. She reminds us of our wild potential, of our hungry spirits, and of the entire world awaiting our unique gifts.

As the Founder of Lionheart Creations, and Co-Founder and Lead Designer at Saved By Story Publishing, she serves messengers and enterprises on a mission to facilitate positive change in the world. She co-hosts the savory, storytelling madness of Sips of Story 'n Sanity podcast, showcasing the journeys of other Seekers and Creators from around the world.

Review text

In this transformative debut, Coelho crafts a story of grief, healing, and growth, the first in her Lionheart Chronicles, intended to “transport you to worlds unseen and dance with the beauty of other cultures, other belief systems, other ways of life and love.” The story centers on 21-year-old Scarlett Leonelli as she navigates the tragedy of witnessing her father’s death. When Scarlett meets a mystery woman named Gelena aboard a flight from Oregon, she is gifted a free plane ticket—to visit Gelena in Costa Rica, at a "special place you need to be." Young and adventurous, Scarlett takes the risk, traveling to a tranquil village surrounded by the Costa Rican jungle.

Scattered throughout this moving tale are Scarlett’s poems and stunningly beautiful illustrations, exposing her innermost feelings of pain and heartbreak. “I inhaled this Beast called Death,” she writes, “feeling the readiness in my bones//to ask my questions, to demand my answers.” Upon her arrival in Costa Rica, she meets locals with a penchant for magic, who believe their very soil is enchanted, and through conversations with staff and other tourists, Scarlett is forced out of her protective shell, embarking on once-in-a-lifetime excursions, meditative sessions, and dance classes, all of which reawaken her creative spirit.

Drowning in the consuming weight of grief, Scarlett is staggered by this transcendent journey, through which she allows herself to be pulled out of darkness and into the light of healing and learning how to live again. Coelho maneuvers through heavy themes with poignant anecdotes, poetry, and wise lessons from the eclectic group of characters Scarlett encounters in the village, as when her friend Shawna reflects that the stars are “a map that was made just for you. By god, by the universe, by destiny, or whoever you want to believe in.” The writing is expressive and symbolic, a mystical voyage of letting go.

Review text - Clarion Reviews

The allegorical novel The Alchemy of The Beast follows as a once-busy woman redefines her sense of what’s ordinary.

An unexpected trip to Central America is healing for a young entrepreneur in Alyssa Noelle Coelho’s allegorical novel The Alchemy of the Beast.

After her father dies, a stranger invites Scar to Costa Rica, the setting of the book they’re both reading. Scar hopes that the impromptu trip will be a reset—she needs to return to her normal school, work, and a social schedule. But facing the traumas of her recent past leads to a new normal instead, as Scar makes new friends and acknowledges her power.

A small business owner, student, and caregiver for her father, Scar is a goal-oriented heroine who is used to being in control. Her discomfort during the plane ride to Costa Rica and skepticism toward the driver on the way set up the true challenge she faces: she must overcome such tendencies. She achieves her transformation first by giving into sensory temptations, experiencing the tastes, smells, and feelings of her new location, including its flora and fauna. She develops heightened awareness of the world around her thanks in part to this lush, immersive setting.

Promoting the values of setting down one’s concerns and relaxing with simple pleasures, the book revels in removing Scar from the realm of her routines. Much of the book is dedicated to her reacting to activities (exploring waterfalls and a ropes course) in jolting ways: she passes out; she has visions; she falls asleep and has revelatory dreams. She also benefits from the wisdom of dance, meditation, and astrology experts; they have conversations with her both in professional settings and over meals. Most are developed as compassionate teachers, exemplifying the ideals Scar is encouraged toward. However, one person’s references to star charts and zodiac signs is too vague to be instructive.

The prose verges into magical realism territory with its incorporation of out-of-body experiences, capitalizing on wonder and passion to make its spiritual points. Scar’s friendship with her roommate, romance with one of the hosts, and attraction to another person are fraught, giving her space to feel a range of emotions that support her overall change of mind. Further, complementary excerpts from her poetry and artwork are embedded in the text to illustrate her inner work in real time. She becomes exclamatory as the book progresses; for the new Scar, the current moment matters most. This, the book seems to suggest, is a mentality that anyone might adopt.

A recovery story set in Costa Rica, the allegorical novel The Alchemy of The Beast follows as a once-busy woman redefines her sense of what’s ordinary.

Review text - Kirkus Reviews

In Coelho’s novel, a chance encounter leads a young woman on a fantastical journey to the jungles of Costa Rica, where she learns to make peace with a devastating loss.

Scarlett, a young woman whose father has recently died, is wary of other people’s advice when it comes to navigating grief. She would rather face her problems herself than read a book by “some enlightened guru who might be able to fix my crumbling world with his pen and paper.” It’s no surprise, then, that she puts off reading one such book, despite her sister’s assurance that it will help her deal with her complicated feelings. It’s not until she meets Gelena, a mysteriously familiar Russian woman who clutches the same book, that Scarlett begins to suspend her disbelief. When Gelena produces a prepaid plane ticket from her purse and tells Scarlett to visit her in San José, Scarlett uncharacteristically accepts, no questions asked. Two weeks later, she’s greeted in Costa Rica by Gelena’s driver, Ramón, who drives hours into the jungle to a land that, according to the stories Ramón grew up hearing from his grandfather, was once a place of magic, where children ruled and were “Shapeshifters […] each with their own powers.” As Scarlett listens to the story, her wariness turns to curiosity as she remembers the powers she feels she, too, possessed as a child. Like many novels that outline an imagined world that functions far differently from our own (in this case, it could be argued, for the better), this one is mightily impressive in its scope. But the book quickly reveals itself to be the same type of volume Scarlett disregards in the opening pages; to borrow a quote from the foreword, the reader is a “traveler” invited to “be a pilgrim on the paths of this book.” Such language persists throughout the novel, which, together with the inspirational quotes that punctuate it, has the tone of a motivational speech, in which Scarlett is merely an example used to make a point.

Despite the intricacies of its plot, this book serves as a one-size-fits-all guide to navigating grief.