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Book Review: The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho

Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by Louisa

In a world filled with countless adventure stories and tales of heroism, romance, and adventure, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” shines as a beacon of light, shining brightly above the rest, in this timeless adventure novel filled with profound and timeless wisdom.

The Alchemist isn’t just a novel, it’s a spiritual awakening. Paulo Coelho is well known for writing not only incredible stories but also for expressing philosophical wondering and deeply thought-provoking messages.

He is one of the most famous, and greatest, Brazilian authors, and it was The Alchemist that put earned him the acclaimed recognition he receives today.

Selling 300 million copies worldwide since its release in 1993, The Alchemist should be the first book anyone read if you’re not familiar with Paulo Coelho.

And in this honest book review of The Alchemist, you’re about to find out why…

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through any of these links. 

Book Review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist Book Review

The Alchemist is an enchanting novel that takes you on a transformative journey that will have you questioning life, our purpose, and our place in the world.

Not only that, but the philosophical messages remind us of the power of dreams, the importance of self-discovery, and the remarkable possibilities that lie beyond our comfort zones.

In The Alchemist, the reader follows a young boy (who remains nameless throughout) as he chases his dream of finding the lost treasure, after being told where to look by a King he meets in the market.

Along the way, the boy learns about free will, the power of Maktub, a term used to describe “what is meant to be”, as well as finds love, resilience, and passion.

Accompanied by an Alchemist, the boy learns to bend the powers of the Earth to his will, enabling him to fulfill his purpose and reach his goals.

The Alchemist has one important message: never give up, no matter what obstacles you face.

By Louisa Smith

the alchemist by paulo coelho
Writing style
Character development
Likelihood of reading the sequel


A novel that has you contemplating life, the world, and our purpose within it. Deeply profound, enlightening, and poetic. Truly, The Alchemist is one of the best adventure novels of all time.


What I Liked

Of course, the best thing about The Alchemist is Coelho’s writing style, which effortlessly weaves together simplicity and elegance, creating a mesmerizing narrative that transports you to the mystical realms of your imagination.

The lyrical prose flows like a gentle breeze, enchanting us with its beauty and evoking a sense of wonder with every word.

Of course, The Alchemist is most famous for its philosophy. Despite being less than 200 pages, it’s a book you want to read slowly, taking in each profound thought and idea slowly and taking time to contemplate.

As you navigate your way through the story, you’ll be questioning the meaning of life and the transformative power of love, determination, and passion.

I loved how the boy renamed nameless throughout, allowing you to put yourself in his shoes.

Even though the story is simple, its messages and Coelho’s deep philosophical depth are what make this book a masterpiece.

Coelho skillfully explores the concepts that invite you to question your own beliefs and preconceived notions about the world.

The character development was also excellent, as you follow the young boy in first person, gaining insight from his own perspective. As each philosophical quip is dropped, the reader learns along with the boy, who is receiving a spiritual awakening.

What Could Have Been Better

The Alchemist isn’t a novel that’s enjoyed for the storyline. It delivers a powerful message, but when it comes to the plot, this is somewhat predictable.

Coelho follows a well-trodden path, utilizing common storytelling tropes and archetypes, and there’s no real element of surprise about what comes next in terms of the narrative.

While I liked the character development of the boy, the supporting characters lack depth. Perhaps this is done to keep the attention on the boy and his journey, but there could have been more development from the secondary characters.

Each person the boy meets has an impact on him in some way, but as he moves on through the narrative, they get forgotten about.

The focus of The Alchemist is on the overarching themes and symbolism, which means that the plot and individual growth of the supporting characters get put to the side.

Despite these minor shortcomings, I still feel that The Alchemist remains an extraordinary literary masterpiece and I’m not surprised it has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people around the globe.

Coelho’s ability to infuse spirituality and philosophy into a captivating story is a testament to his brilliance as a writer.

Related Reading: Quotes from The Alchemist

Similar Works

Of course, Paulo Coelho’s other works are equally as profound and enlightening, especially The Pilgrimage, which is all about his own personal pilgrimage journey.

Another profound book by Paulo Coelho that I thought was similar was Manuscript Found in Accra, which is about a preacher who shares the answers to life’s questions and the rules for sacred human values.

If you’re looking for something that leaves you contemplating life, then I highly recommend you pick up these other two novels by Paulo Coelho.

Related Post: Books Similar to The Alchemist

The Alchemist Trigger Warnings

The Alchemist doesn’t really contain trigger warnings, but there are some scenes that contain the following…

  • Sexism
  • Gender Bias
  • Robbery
  • Poverty
  • Aggression and physical assault


The Alchemist has the following themes:

  • Travel and Self-Discovery
  • Free Will vs Fate
  • Love
  • Pursuit of a dream
  • Wisdom
  • Maktub (What is Meant to Be)
  • Value of the small things
  • Coming of age

Where to Find It?

You can find The Alchemist at most retail bookstores, or you can find it from one of these links…

The Verdict: Would I Recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?

The Alchemist has a permanent place on my bookshelf and is a book I will reread for years to come. While the plot isn’t anything special, it’s philosophy, symbolism, and profound messaging have changed my way of thinking about the world.

It’s a book that will enlighten you, awaken you, and maybe even light a fire in you, encouraging you to dream big and chase the stars.

I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for something insightful and thought-provoking.

Have Your Say…

Now you know what I think, let us know what you think! Share your thoughts about The Alchemist in the comments.

The Details

  • Pub Date: April 25th, 1993
  • ISBN: 978-0061122415
  • Page Count: 197
  • Publisher: HarperOne

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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