Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

 Book review | The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | 4 stars

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Cover photograph: J. Sims/Telegraph Colour Library
HarperCollinsPublishers 1999
ISBN: 978 0 7225 3293 5



This is the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the exotic markets of Tangiers and then into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him

The Alchemist is a transforming novel about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all following our dreams.

Bullet-point review


+ reminiscent of fairy tales (parables)
+ follow your heart doesn’t mean ‘get the girl’
+ symbolism

– simple story

Full Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. After I had seen some of the reviews on Goodreads, I was a little afraid that it might be terrible, after all, about half the reviews say it is. I’m on the other side of that. I thought it was great!

Yes, it immediately reminded me of fairy tales: following omens, following your heart, going through several trials before finding what your heart truly wants, proving your courage. I loved reading a spiritual/mystical/magical realism story about a boy who follows his hearts. No matter the heartache he experiences, and his wavering willingness, he eventually follows his heart.

To me, the story reads as a (more modern, though definitely not modern) fairy tale. I’d love to read it again and discover all the symbolism in the story. I probably helps that right before this book I read a book about symbolism in fairy tales.

Recommend to anyone who likes fairy tales


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