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By Sean Martin, published by Pocket Essentials at £3.99. 94pp. ISBN: 1-903047-52-8

At first glance you might think that this is one volume in a series of beginners' guides to the usual occult subjects ranging from runes to qabalah and from druidry to basic wicca, but you'd be wrong because, so far at least, it's the sole occult-based volume in an eclectic range of mostly unrelated topics.

As an introductory guide, however, it's no better or worse than any of the others on the market. It generally covers the same range of material as similar beginner's guides in other series - history of alchemy and how it developed into modern chemistry; an explanation of the basic theories, concepts and practices of alchemy, a round-up of the influential writers and texts and a list of famous or influential alchemists over the ages. It's cheaper than the others but then it's not as detailed as the Element book on the same subject, and a very significant proportion of the pages are given over to that listing of famous historical alchemists without really saying much about alchemy itself.

If you know nowt about alchemy this book will give you a very basic overview but not much more. If you are curious and want a general grounding in the subject you will probably find this guide too limited to be of much help.