Addie is the amnesiac survivor of an explosion in a world where magic is, if not commonplace, at least recognised by one and all as a reality. She herself is in fact an alchemist and was apparently a Master Alchemist (witness the tattoos on her upper arms) before the explosion at Alchemica which caused her loss of memory.
Who engineered the explosion, and why are the bad guys still after her now? Could it be that she had in fact discovered the Final Formula, the elusive elixir of life which bestows immortality? The idea seems absurd until, half-way through the book, she and her new friends search the records, hoping to give her back her memory, and learn that she is not the miraculously fast-healing, beautiful, witty, 22-year-old she seems to be but a pudgy middle-aged academic named Amelia Daulton.
Addie herself is a great character spoilt only by the very disappointing ending. But on second thoughts, perhaps that disappointing and completely out-of-character ending merely emphasises the total lack of continuity between the old Amelia and the new Addie. No doubt if I read the sequel all would be explained. But I hate being forced to read a sequel which is really just a next instalment masquerading ...
And what has that awful cover got to do with Addie or the story?