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Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.


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Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes. But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

30 review for The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: I've read several of Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes works in the last few years, as well as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. In my college days (not long after the Victorian age) I also read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. Would it be sacrilege to say that I enjoyed this delightful pastiche and tribute to Holmes and other Victorian era fantasy better than m Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature: I've read several of Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes works in the last few years, as well as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. In my college days (not long after the Victorian age) I also read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. Would it be sacrilege to say that I enjoyed this delightful pastiche and tribute to Holmes and other Victorian era fantasy better than most of the originals? What The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter lacks in literary depth, it makes up for in humor and accessibility. Mary Jekyll, daughter of Dr. Jekyll, who has been gone for many years, is facing a penniless life on her own after her mother’s death. Mary comes across some mysterious papers in her mother’s desk that lead her to believe that Mr. Hyde may still be around (she has no idea he was her father’s alter ego). The reward for Hyde’s capture for his murder of Sir Carew many years ago is very appealing, but Mary’s not certain whether that the reward is still being offered, or who she can trust with her potentially valuable information. So she decides to go to 221B Baker Street, to enlist the help of Sherlock Holmes. One thing leads to another, and gradually we assemble a very appealing and fascinating cast of characters: Diana Hyde, a wild and irrepressible 14 year old; Beatrice Rappaccini (from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini's Daughter”), with poisonous breath and a burning touch; Catherine Moreau, a woman with disturbingly cat-like qualities; and Justine Frankenstein, an extremely tall and gentle woman who was assembled to be the bride of Frankenstein ― all women who might be considered monsters by society. These young women, with the help of Sherlock Holmes and some additional characters (it’s nice to see a servant play a substantive role in the plot), work together to solve a series of creepy murders, in which young prostitutes have been found dead with various parts of their bodies missing. To make matters worse, the murders are tied to a secretive society of scientists, the Société des Alchimistes, to which all of these women have a connection as well. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is, on a higher level, faithful to the Victorian era and the works that inspired, but takes some intriguing (and necessary) liberties with the original stories: Mary Shelley deliberately misled her readers when she wrote that Dr. Frankenstein had destroyed his woman creation before giving it life, and Beatrice relates a different ending to “Rappachini’s Daughter.” While these women are generally well-grounded in Victorian times, we see aspects of that society that often don’t appear in literature: Beatrice supports Votes for Women and Dress Reform, Catherine’s atheism is counterbalanced by Justine’s deep religious faith, Diana has been raised by prostitutes and mistrusts men on principle, and Mary finds herself wondering how much more women could accomplish if they were permitted to wear trousers. These women are a diverse group, each with a distinct and memorable personality and unexpected talents. Though they’ve experienced rejection and cruelty in their lives, and some of them even sexual and other types of abuse, in the process of working together they find support and friendship. They eventually name their group the Athena Club (“We claim the wisdom of Athena, but we identify with her dubious parentage”). It’s refreshing to see these familiar stories through the eyes of the female characters, rather than the men who used and mistreated them. The sometimes dark plot of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is lightened by the humorous banter between these women, especially as ― in a rather meta feature of the book ― they continually interrupt Catherine’s writing of their story with snarky comments and arguments about how the book is being written. These side conversations do sap a little of the tension from the story, since it’s clear that all of these young women have survived the investigation and are still together, but they add a fun and creative twist to the story. Though a part of the mystery is resolved, there are lingering questions about the the Société des Alchimistes, and another mystery raises its head in the end. Here’s hoping for many more adventures and mysteries for the Athena Club! I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley. Thanks!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    what could be better than a found family of monster girls solving mysteries in the victorian era

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melora

    “The Unfortunate Case of the Gimmicks That Took Over the Story” This was disappointing. Hard to see how anyone could write a mash-up of so many Victorian “monster” stories and make it boring, but that's what Goss has succeeded in doing here. The business of having the characters interjecting comments into the narrative wasn't exactly a problem, but it didn't really add anything, and it was a bit of a distraction from the narrative. The real problem is that the author, in her eagerness to include “The Unfortunate Case of the Gimmicks That Took Over the Story” This was disappointing. Hard to see how anyone could write a mash-up of so many Victorian “monster” stories and make it boring, but that's what Goss has succeeded in doing here. The business of having the characters interjecting comments into the narrative wasn't exactly a problem, but it didn't really add anything, and it was a bit of a distraction from the narrative. The real problem is that the author, in her eagerness to include references to so many Victorian characters, both literary and historical, completely neglected to write an interesting story. We have Jekyll and Hyde, Van Helsing and Renfield, Rappaccini and Moreau, Mary Shelley and her mad scientist, Darwin and Lamarck, Jack the Ripper, Holmes and Watson, and more, but the story holding them all together was, apparently, barely an afterthought. Characterization, also, was neglected, and most of the characters are completely flat. The “conclusion,” after the brief flare of activity that serves as a climax, is utterly interminable. Absolutely nothing happens in the last hundred pages, which are mind-bogglingly dull and repetitious. Reading the Kindle version, I kept supposing that something had to happen, or that maybe the final 10% would be a sample of the next in in the series, but, nope. Two stars, and one of those is for the pretty cover.

  4. 4 out of 5

    chan ☆

    i really did not enjoy this 😬 not a bad book just really not my cup of tea

  5. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    3.5 stars Clever and witty in the vein of many Victorian classics but much more accessible, if not necessarily as sophisticated. There's a colorful cast of women based on said classics who are often charming and enjoyable to follow. Mary, the eponymous Alchemist's Daughter, is especially lovely and admirable. Her foil- and half-sister- Diana, is sometimes one-note in her perpetual disagreeableness, but always entertaining in her interactions with Mary. The inclusion of the reputable duo of Sherlo 3.5 stars Clever and witty in the vein of many Victorian classics but much more accessible, if not necessarily as sophisticated. There's a colorful cast of women based on said classics who are often charming and enjoyable to follow. Mary, the eponymous Alchemist's Daughter, is especially lovely and admirable. Her foil- and half-sister- Diana, is sometimes one-note in her perpetual disagreeableness, but always entertaining in her interactions with Mary. The inclusion of the reputable duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson adds another fun element, even more so because they are mainly relegated to supporting character status allowing the female cast to shine. Goss employs the literary device of allowing her cast to interject their thoughts and reactions during the "writing" of the novel by Catherine, one of Dr. Moreau's creations. While it's cute and sometimes provides insight into the thoughts of the characters, it's not strictly necessary and comes off as more of a frivolous conceit. The pacing is disjointed, the last third (basically all conclusion) especially, although I actually did enjoy Justine's lengthy monologue. It shows Goss's connection, love, and understanding of the source material and ended up being quite touching. Overall not incredible, but with the possibility of a sequel left wide open, (view spoiler)[(the strange case of the alchemist's daughter is never actually solved) (hide spoiler)] I'm more than willing to follow the Athena Club around on their next adventure. Posted in Mr. Philip's Library

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/06/20/... “That was the first meeting of the Athena Club. … Readers who remember their classical mythology will immediately realize its significance: Athena, born from the head of her father, Zeus. We do not claim the wisdom of Athena, but we identify with her dubious parentage.” The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter may be the latest in a long line of mashups based off of some of literature’s most famous horror and sci-fi cla 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/06/20/... “That was the first meeting of the Athena Club. … Readers who remember their classical mythology will immediately realize its significance: Athena, born from the head of her father, Zeus. We do not claim the wisdom of Athena, but we identify with her dubious parentage.” The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter may be the latest in a long line of mashups based off of some of literature’s most famous horror and sci-fi classics, but it possesses a charm you don’t find in a lot of retellings today. The awesome quote above is one of my favorites from the book—which I just had to use to begin my review, because it manages to capture the essence of this book so perfectly, as well as the strength and spirit of the women in it. As the story begins, we are introduced to Mary Jekyll who is in mourning for her mother, dead after years of suffering from a debilitating madness. Left with nothing to her name, Mary has no choice but to sort through some of her family’s old accounts, only to find that for years her mother had been sending money to a halfway house for “fallen women”. Following this trail, our protagonist is led to Diana Hyde, daughter of Edward Hyde, the man Mary only knows as her father’s former employee—and murderer. Mr. Hyde has been wanted for his crimes for years, and with this new development, Mary has hopes that helping the authorities capture him would mean the end of her financial troubles once she collects the reward. It is while following up on the case that Mary ends up meeting with the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson. As it so happens, the two men are also currently helping Scotland Yard investigate a string of gruesome murders in Whitechapel. Some of the victims, all street women, were brutally dismembered and one even had her brain removed. Could these murders be related to the Edward Hyde? Further digging leads Mary and Diana to find and befriend more women, all of whom have been created through experimentation by a shadowy group known as the Société des Alchimistes: Beatrice Rappaccini, raised by her father to tend to a garden of poisonous plants until she herself became poisonous to others; Catherine Moreau, a beast woman brought to life by her creator’s human-animal hybridization experiments; and last but not least, Justine Frankenstein, reanimated from the corpse of a dead girl by Dr. Frankenstein to be a female companion to his monster. One part creative re-imagining and one part loving homage, my favorite aspect of this book is most definitely its premise, or the idea of getting the “daughters” of some of gothic literature’s most famous characters together to solve a mystery. Goss gives all the women personalities that let them stand out as unique individuals, like sensible Mary Jekyll who is the de facto leader of the group, Justine whose great physical strength and stature belies her gentle soul, or Catherine whose irreverence and independence reflects the fact she used to be a puma. My absolute favorite, however, was probably Diana—the lovable hellion who just does and says whatever she pleases, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Poole the housekeeper. Then there are of course the nods to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and even some to Dracula by Bram Stoker. Indeed, if you are a fan of any of the referenced classics, you should have a lot of fun with this novel. It was also very clever how the story even incorporated Jack the Ripper; even though it was done in a very oblique and subtle way, the location and details behind the murders are clearly meant to make you think in that direction. The structure and format of this tale is also interesting. The book, as we find out early on, is an account of events as told by Catherine Moreau, who among other things is an aspiring writer. For better or worse, she has also allowed her companions to chime in in reaction to everything going on in her manuscript, meaning we frequently get interruptions in the narrative ranging from humorous remarks made by the characters objecting to the way they are being portrayed, to snarky comments about the quality of Catherine’s writing. While this is all done in good fun, I admit that sometimes these asides can get a little excessive and distracting, and it took me a while to get used to them. Granted though, I can still say these are vastly preferable to pesky footnotes. In terms of pacing, my only complaint was the drawn out conclusion. Goss had it so that each of the women were able to tell their individual stories, and for the most part, these were spread out nicely throughout the book and came in at appropriate times. The only exception was Justine. Her backstory was left until the end after the plot’s climax, piggybacked onto the denouement which I thought was a little awkward. The wrap-up section explaining the formation of the Athena Club could have been shortened too, along with the setup for their next adventure—but I’m not going to grumble too hard on this point. After all, it is foreshadowing that bodes well for the possibility of a sequel, and it’s safe to say I wouldn’t mind seeing more from this world and its characters. A delightfully vibrant fusion of mystery and adventure, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter will make you think about your favorite literary classics in a whole new light. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will be looking forward to more by Theodora Goss.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    OBSESSED!! THIS WAS FUCKING GENIUS!! ok i need to collect my thoughts in the vlog im posing tomorrow but if you like the concept of Stalking Jack the Ripper but didnt like the execution THIS IS FOR YOU!!! honestly,,,,, a new fave

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie Colson

    This felt like Morticia Addams was reading me a bedtime story A found family of monsters solving crimes with Sherlock Holmes? SAY LESS!!! I beg you. I couldn't throw myself into this book fast enough or with more gusto. I am OBSESSED. This was specific brand of tea steeped perfectly. These characters are my life now. This felt like Morticia Addams was reading me a bedtime story A found family of monsters solving crimes with Sherlock Holmes? SAY LESS!!! I beg you. I couldn't throw myself into this book fast enough or with more gusto. I am OBSESSED. This was specific brand of tea steeped perfectly. These characters are my life now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Q: We are modern. And, of course, monstrous . . . (c) I read this one on a whim and am not disappointed too much. The good: - The banter lovely. - The sleuthy setting. - Love the setting and the character building. The bad: - Where's the info for the world-setting? Yes, I know, everyone's always crying about infodumps. Well, I love my infodumps and there's no info in here. Who are these people standing next to the grave? For example, who is this gal Diana? Why do I have to look for this unfo around t Q: We are modern. And, of course, monstrous . . . (c) I read this one on a whim and am not disappointed too much. The good: - The banter lovely. - The sleuthy setting. - Love the setting and the character building. The bad: - Where's the info for the world-setting? Yes, I know, everyone's always crying about infodumps. Well, I love my infodumps and there's no info in here. Who are these people standing next to the grave? For example, who is this gal Diana? Why do I have to look for this unfo around the book specifically and not get it right away as soon as Diana appears in the text? - Are all the surnames freshly out? I don't like that Jekyll / Hyde surnames were repurposed. - I HATED the dialogue interruptions throughout the book. I'm sure they were supposed to be bantery and get the text lighty-flighty (and monstrous, of course) but they kept setting me on edge. - We are monstrous, so very fragging monstrous. Do you still remember we're monstrous? Yeah, we're monstrous to the extent you wouldn't believe. We're the monster monstrous. ... I got tired of this trope right away and of course this kept being repeated throughout the volume... Gosh, I'm so happy I don't live in that darn epoch! Q: In short, Miss Jekyll, since you have recently come of age, you may choose to marry. A young lady of your personal attractions would certainly prove acceptable to a man who is not particular about his wife’s fortune.” Mr. Guest looked at her meaningfully. ... “Thank you, Mr. Guest,” she said, rising and extending her hand. “I’m sure you’re very wise in worldly matters and all that. And I appreciate your advice. And could you please ask your clerk to fetch my umbrella and mackintosh?” (c) The fun quotes: Q: “I have no intention of going mad, at least not today.” (c) Q: “A lady should be able to pay her butcher’s bill,” said Mary. (c) Q: No wonder men did not want women to wear bloomers. What could women accomplish if they did not have to continually mind their skirts, keep them from dragging in the mud or getting trampled on the steps of an omnibus? If they had pockets! With pockets, women could conquer the world! (c) Q: She had longed for adventure, and now that it was happening to her, she was not sure how she felt about it. (c) Q: Umbrella, mackintosh, gum boots. She was prepared for the deluge. (c) Q: Sometimes she thought the world needed drowning. (c) Q: Footmen are ornamental in white stockings for dinner service, but not as useful as a good scullery maid. (c) Q: “Yet even a madman has method in his madness,” (c) Q: JUSTINE: We all need human sympathy. DIANA: I don’t. (c) Q: ... as though someone had decided on large and ominous as a decorating style. (c)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elle Maruska

    Ok I'm going to be incredibly enthusiastic here: I LOVE THIS BOOK. Like. I love it SO HARD. I LOVE IT. I want more in this universe. I want more of this series immediately. MONSTER GIRLS! MONSTER GIRLS WHO LOVE AND PROTECT EACH OTHER AND COME TOGETHER TO STOP A SOCIETY OF MEN WHO TREATED THEM AS INHUMAN LIKE I LOVE THIS I mean I could offer criticisms I suppose but I don't want to. Because THIS BOOK is the kind of book we need more of it. We need books about girls have adventures together, girls bein Ok I'm going to be incredibly enthusiastic here: I LOVE THIS BOOK. Like. I love it SO HARD. I LOVE IT. I want more in this universe. I want more of this series immediately. MONSTER GIRLS! MONSTER GIRLS WHO LOVE AND PROTECT EACH OTHER AND COME TOGETHER TO STOP A SOCIETY OF MEN WHO TREATED THEM AS INHUMAN LIKE I LOVE THIS I mean I could offer criticisms I suppose but I don't want to. Because THIS BOOK is the kind of book we need more of it. We need books about girls have adventures together, girls being friends and confidants, girls who are feminine and girls who aren't, girls who are bold and girls who are shy, girls who are allowed to make mistakes, girls who are allowed to be all sorts of different things. THIS BOOK HAS SO MANY GIRLS HAVING ADVENTURES and I can't stop screaming about how much I love it. Like the girls in this story are so well-rounded, so well-defined, and they MAKE SENSE. What they do, how they think...it all makes sense within the context of the story and the period in which it is set. ALSO THERE IS LIKE 0 ROMANCE WHICH IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER TBH. No one is distracted by irritating boys being gross. The most important thing to these girls is each other and that's so special I can't get over it. I hope there are more books coming because I am sad that I'm finished with this one and I need MORE IMMEDIATELY.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cress

    This was the first book I read for Spooktober, and I gotta say, I was disappointed. Everything pointed to me liking the premise of this book. Period, yes. Strong female leads, interested! References to a plethora of gothic monsters? HELL YEAH. So what the hell happened? I honestly feel as though Goss bit off more than she could chew. First things first, the characters. They are all hollow. Every. Single. One. I felt no connection between any of the female leads and myself as a reader.They each fe This was the first book I read for Spooktober, and I gotta say, I was disappointed. Everything pointed to me liking the premise of this book. Period, yes. Strong female leads, interested! References to a plethora of gothic monsters? HELL YEAH. So what the hell happened? I honestly feel as though Goss bit off more than she could chew. First things first, the characters. They are all hollow. Every. Single. One. I felt no connection between any of the female leads and myself as a reader.They each felt like a stereotype that needed to be added in a sort of checklist. The intelligent lady, the mouthy brat, the foreign beauty, the gentle soul, the wildcat, the motherly governess, and the innocent maid. I literally hated Diana. What did the story gain from having Diana in it, outside of an obnoxious token teenager? The plot. What plot? Nothing was resolved. Literally nothing. This felt like the first book in the Babysitter's Club, except longer and more boring. What does the Athena club do anyway outside of raising money to live off of? Don't say solve mysteries. THEY HAVE SOLVED NOTHING. Ahem...style. Okay, I get what Goss was trying to do. I did. It works best in television or movies. Having characters interrupt in a book DOES. NOT. WORK. I'll tell you why. It pulls you out of the narrative and adds nothing. All the interruptions didn't add a damn thing. No insight. Just opinions on things that don't matter. Case in point every time Diana interrupts with "I don't sound like that." And the tangents? UGH! But wait, it gets worse. The characters tell you what happen in the story BEFORE it happens. "Like remember that one part where I got shot and nearly died, etc." And Then we find out 50 pages later what happened. WTF. You made me feel NO concern or caring! Also, what I hated, HATED, HATED! Making references to mysteries that we know jack about. It's comparable to Scooby-Doo and the gang name dropping all the monsters they've faced. But you see, WE GOT TO SEE THAT HAPPEN. NO ONE TOLD US IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EPISODE/MOVIE. I'm not done yet. The constant reference to the fact they're monsters. I got it the first time. The fact that they're monsters is so repeatedly drilled into my skull that every time it's brought up in the character interruptions, I couldn't help but groan. If you look at my reading notes, you can see that I counted each occurrence that I caught up until half-way through the book, where I just stopped caring to count. I caught it seven times in 200 pages. In conclusion, this was an okay book, but an incredibly mediocre attempt to start a new series. And like one of those other reviewers who said it: One star is for the pretty cover. This book was truly a monstrosity. *mic drop*

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Damron

    I have not read a book quite like this which is a delight. The writing was clever and unique considering the author is using well known/loved characters in literature. I enjoyed the mystery, but was even more delighted with the back story of each of the female characters. How they lived, what they experienced just swept me away to another world. My one complaint is there was a lot of editing errors that could have easily been avoided with misspelled words or incorrect words used in the sentence. I have not read a book quite like this which is a delight. The writing was clever and unique considering the author is using well known/loved characters in literature. I enjoyed the mystery, but was even more delighted with the back story of each of the female characters. How they lived, what they experienced just swept me away to another world. My one complaint is there was a lot of editing errors that could have easily been avoided with misspelled words or incorrect words used in the sentence. That being said, it did not take away from enjoyment of the story itself. Think league of extraordinary gentlemen, but with female characters. Witty, clever, and a whole lot of fun.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    In a lot of ways, this is a near-perfect arrow shot going through the hearts of all the very best penny dreadfuls, from Frankenstein to Doctor Moreau. Add all the delightful references to Dracula, Van Helsing, Hyde, (and even Lamarck!), and we've got ourselves a great mish-mash of fantasy, SF, and horror classics in one delightfully female-heavy tale that invites the heavyweight services of Sherlock in for the ride. It really is charming. For the first half, I was entirely on board like I was wat In a lot of ways, this is a near-perfect arrow shot going through the hearts of all the very best penny dreadfuls, from Frankenstein to Doctor Moreau. Add all the delightful references to Dracula, Van Helsing, Hyde, (and even Lamarck!), and we've got ourselves a great mish-mash of fantasy, SF, and horror classics in one delightfully female-heavy tale that invites the heavyweight services of Sherlock in for the ride. It really is charming. For the first half, I was entirely on board like I was watching Penny Dreadful or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or reading A Night in the Lonesome October. :) That kind of thing. But while I still enjoyed the meta-writing banter between some of the main female characters, the over-plot got kinda ...tedious... near the end. Not bad, mind you, and in fact, the whole novel was a real charmer for how it drew in so many well-beloved classics, but I've never had a soft spot for the whole Moreau line. Maybe it's because I know too much about science to really be able to love quite that much handwavium. Most of the time I can move on just fine. If I started quibbling about science in SF I might never get beyond a handful of books. :) BUT that doesn't detract all that much from the story. It's solid, creative, and a real nostalgia-fest.

  14. 5 out of 5

    samantha Bookworm-on-rainydays

    a really Interesting read if you love the Classics like Sherlock, and mary shelley Frankenstein, it's a Great Book that brings to life characters that we all think we know. from Sherlock to jekyll and hyde to rappaccini's daughter,The plot/mystery is interesting (solving the Whitechapel Murders), but more interesting is the origin story of the Athena Club and its monstrous members. I am to book two. a really Interesting read if you love the Classics like Sherlock, and mary shelley Frankenstein, it's a Great Book that brings to life characters that we all think we know. from Sherlock to jekyll and hyde to rappaccini's daughter,The plot/mystery is interesting (solving the Whitechapel Murders), but more interesting is the origin story of the Athena Club and its monstrous members. I am to book two.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I'm not sure what to say about this book. I liked the premise, I enjoyed reading it, I liked that it was a story about extraordinary women coming together as sisters. It even had Sherlock Holmes! But something about the basic structure of it sort of threw me off. The story is punctuated by characters' comments, snippets of conversations and observations that happened over the course of the book's creation. On the one hand, it supposedly offers better insight into the personalities of the characte I'm not sure what to say about this book. I liked the premise, I enjoyed reading it, I liked that it was a story about extraordinary women coming together as sisters. It even had Sherlock Holmes! But something about the basic structure of it sort of threw me off. The story is punctuated by characters' comments, snippets of conversations and observations that happened over the course of the book's creation. On the one hand, it supposedly offers better insight into the personalities of the characters and makes guessing the accuracy of certain descriptions throughout a bit of a fun game. But at the same time, these conversations inevitably appeared at the story's climaxes, and by their nature slowed down the plot considerably. Now, I'm not one to need my plots car-crash fast (I do not need to be "hurtled along" by any means), and I actually love slower paced books that center around characters and relationships more so than "plot." But even though this is explicitly addressed during one of the character asides that "this isn't one of your thrillers, it's the story of us coming together" the basic structure of the story--and the characters involved--were...well...suited to a thriller. And it was very hard for me to reconcile the artificially (is that the right word..? Expressly...Purposely...) slow structure with the thriller it encased. And somehow it felt like the actual structure of the writing--punctuated with character observations--overlaying a thriller--murder! dark secrets!--actually ended up damaging both the exploration of characters/how they came together as well as acting in detriment to the thriller elements themselves. That is to say, the periodic interjections did not seem to actually add dimension to the characters, and the fact that it was a thriller they were interjecting (?) also did not help the issue. So we have this story that's not a great thriller because it moves so slow because of character interjections that are supposed to add character but--to me, mind you--fail to do so, thus creating a rather disappointing slowly-paced not-thriller (thriller) with two-dimensional characters that obviously had backstories but who somehow never seemed to come alive, repeating the same line about "monstrosity" every 5 pages, touching superficially on their opinions on everything from God to suffrage, culminating in the very confusing realization that I technically knew a lot about the characters and their differences but at the same time felt no real closeness/empathy/understanding/attachment to/with any of them. Our main characters felt strangely indistinguishable and had the same cardboard emotional appeal, leaving me dissatisfied. I could never get a feel for them. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson suffer the same fate, with personalities that technically exist but have no fundamental uniqueness. They reacted to every situation essentially the same (with Sherlock, of course, holding an edge in deduction and basic competence) but there was no depth somehow. It was dull where it should not have been. But I have been harsh. I think it is worth a read. But I am not finishing this book feeling particularly attached to it, and that makes me disappointed. I wonder if it is in part because the humor didn't resonate with me as much? Ahh, maybe that's my problem.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    Ooooo, it’s several classic characters all in one place! Mary Jekyll is looking for her father’s old partner, the murderous Edward Hyde. If she turns him in, the reward will solve all her financial woes. Instead she finds Hyde’s daughter, Diana, and a group of other women: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. With the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary and the others are going to solve the mysteries of their origins. This book is an epic nerdpurr! Backlist bum Ooooo, it’s several classic characters all in one place! Mary Jekyll is looking for her father’s old partner, the murderous Edward Hyde. If she turns him in, the reward will solve all her financial woes. Instead she finds Hyde’s daughter, Diana, and a group of other women: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. With the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary and the others are going to solve the mysteries of their origins. This book is an epic nerdpurr! Backlist bump: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavellaro Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Schulte

    I REALLY wanted to like this book, especially after all the good reviews and the NPR review. However, the book was just too over cluttered. Between the discovery of not one, not two, but five different women from previous novels with unusual "monstrous" characteristics, not to mention throwing Holmes and Watson in there, Goss had no time to focus on any character development, leading to an exciting plot with a bunch of people that I just didn't care about. I mean, it made Sherlock Holmes boring. I REALLY wanted to like this book, especially after all the good reviews and the NPR review. However, the book was just too over cluttered. Between the discovery of not one, not two, but five different women from previous novels with unusual "monstrous" characteristics, not to mention throwing Holmes and Watson in there, Goss had no time to focus on any character development, leading to an exciting plot with a bunch of people that I just didn't care about. I mean, it made Sherlock Holmes boring. Sherlock. Holmes. The other aspect that threw me was the layers of fantastical that, when taken in moderation would have added up to a clever book, but by the end bordered on the ridiculous. By the climactic ending scene, I couldn't even keep up with the number of absurd characters involved. If she had focused on telling one good story instead of five mediocre ones, this book would have been great. Sometimes, less is more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Ryan

    Theodora Goss mines the rich legacy left by the originators of the horror story to craft a tale of monstrous but compassionate heroines banding together to battle a nefarious conspiracy in 1890s London. A enjoyable and inventive romp through the murk and mystery of Victorian monsterdom which is sure to delight fans of Kim Newman’s ‘Anno Dracula’ and Alan Moore’s ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Veronique

    Being a fan of 19th century classics novels, this book from Theodora Goss was always going to be one I just had to get my hands on. Mary Jekyll, after the death of her mother, finds out some very puzzling information involving her father, who passed away several years before under strange circumstances, that she cannot resist wanting to solve. Her investigation leads her on a dangerous path peopled by some very intriguing people, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson being only two of them. From the fir Being a fan of 19th century classics novels, this book from Theodora Goss was always going to be one I just had to get my hands on. Mary Jekyll, after the death of her mother, finds out some very puzzling information involving her father, who passed away several years before under strange circumstances, that she cannot resist wanting to solve. Her investigation leads her on a dangerous path peopled by some very intriguing people, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson being only two of them. From the first, I wondered how Goss would orchestrate such a tale, using characters from the Gothic canon, inventing others, playing with the known stories, and I must say she does on the whole a very good job of it, putting together an entertaining mystery. It is in the characters themselves however where she shines the most, portraying their interactions brilliantly. There is one thing that might not be to every one’s taste. The author creates a very unusual narrative where the main characters keep disrupting the narration with their comments on what is being told, injecting their own views on the events and how these are being illustrated. Readers will either love it or not. Personally, I did like it very much, especially since it didn’t just enrich each personality and provide a comical angle (the nascent relationship between Mary and Diana is hilarious), but also reflected on the art of writing. It always amazes me how a technique that breaks the suspense of disbelief is used here to strengthen it... Finally, do you need to have read the texts referred to here? Not necessarily, but you will enjoy this book a lot more if you have. (List:(view spoiler)[ Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (short story) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Dracula by Bram Stoker (hide spoiler)]

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    A fun literary mash-up set in the 1890s in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but with the daughters of some of fiction's most well-known mad scientists as well as other figures from the literature of the time. Miss Mary Jekyll has just buried her mother and without her mother's endowed income she faces ruin due to lack of funds. On discovering a reference in her mother's estate to money being paid for the upkeep of "Hyde" she seeks help from the well-known detective Mr Holmes to s A fun literary mash-up set in the 1890s in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but with the daughters of some of fiction's most well-known mad scientists as well as other figures from the literature of the time. Miss Mary Jekyll has just buried her mother and without her mother's endowed income she faces ruin due to lack of funds. On discovering a reference in her mother's estate to money being paid for the upkeep of "Hyde" she seeks help from the well-known detective Mr Holmes to see if the reward for the murder Edward Hyde is still on offer. The mysteries uncovered from this lead to Mary discovering family and others women with peculiar origin stories who are all connected. This book is a lot of fun, particularly because of the interactions between the various ladies that Mary encounters and befriends. The conceit of the story is that one of Mary's friends is actually writing the story and including commentary from the group throughout, so we get the amusing reactions of the characters to how the writer is depicting them and each other. This is another "found family" story that works largely because of the clear affection that each of the ladies has for each other. This is clearly book one of a series that I will definitely be continuing with. The final chapter hints at a new addition to Mary's ladies that should prove very interesting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    This ought to be completely up my street with the UF mash up of various Victorian pulp icons as heroines (a Dr Moreau cat woman, Jekyll and Hyde's daughters, etc) but...not doing it. Partly because by 40% we're still introducing characters and easing into the plot, partly because I don't see the point of the device whereby the characters all comment on the writing of the novel. It's a self conscious artifice that reminds you you're reading a book, and it's stopping me empathising with anyone. Re This ought to be completely up my street with the UF mash up of various Victorian pulp icons as heroines (a Dr Moreau cat woman, Jekyll and Hyde's daughters, etc) but...not doing it. Partly because by 40% we're still introducing characters and easing into the plot, partly because I don't see the point of the device whereby the characters all comment on the writing of the novel. It's a self conscious artifice that reminds you you're reading a book, and it's stopping me empathising with anyone. Regretting not enjoying it because it's a wonderful concept but DNF at 40%.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    This book is an advance readers copy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wren (fablesandwren)

    The Cheerful Wednesday Book Club Pick for May 2018 Hey guys! I'm so excited for this book! I literally know nothing about what this is going to be, and I am kind of living for the surprise of it! Here is the schedule for this read. All of these days are Wednesdays, because I thought that was a fun idea: May 09: 01-05 May 16: 06-10 May 23: 11-15 May 30: 16-21 And we are back to actual chapters! The last two books have been great, but they have been in different formats. So we finally have chapters to g The Cheerful Wednesday Book Club Pick for May 2018 Hey guys! I'm so excited for this book! I literally know nothing about what this is going to be, and I am kind of living for the surprise of it! Here is the schedule for this read. All of these days are Wednesdays, because I thought that was a fun idea: May 09: 01-05 May 16: 06-10 May 23: 11-15 May 30: 16-21 And we are back to actual chapters! The last two books have been great, but they have been in different formats. So we finally have chapters to go by now, and I am so excited about it! Who is joining: June Pick: Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1) I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS! MIDDLE GRADE FOR THE WIN! Blog • Bookstagram • Goodreads • Twitter • LinkTree • Club

  24. 5 out of 5

    Auntie Terror

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It has been a while since I experienced such a contrast between my expectations of a book and the reality of reading it. I'll still admit freely that the idea of it is a rather brilliant one, in my opinion - it's worth a whole star for me. Otherwise I'd have given it one star. Gaslamp fantasy is one of my absolute favourites concerning sub-genres. I have had a soft spot for Victorian literature ever since I was 12 or 13 and had learnt English well enough to read - of all things - Arthur Conan Doy It has been a while since I experienced such a contrast between my expectations of a book and the reality of reading it. I'll still admit freely that the idea of it is a rather brilliant one, in my opinion - it's worth a whole star for me. Otherwise I'd have given it one star. Gaslamp fantasy is one of my absolute favourites concerning sub-genres. I have had a soft spot for Victorian literature ever since I was 12 or 13 and had learnt English well enough to read - of all things - Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in the original version (which has resulted in a deep affection almost 'akin to love' - to mini-quote from A Scandal in Bohemia - for the detective and the whole canon). I know all of the heroines' 'origin' stories as well as a number of other gothic tales and novels. I even studied English literature for a while... This series should have been for me! But alas!, it wasn't. It wasn't at all - and, to a certain degree I suppose it was exactly because of what I just explained about myself as a reader. First of all: the Sherlock Holmes dilemma. I don't think that modern authors taking up the character(s) and "re-using" them is per se a crime or sacrilege. There are examples where it was done absolutely brilliantly in my opinion (i.e. The House of Silk) - where the author paid attention and hommage to the original material. In this case it felt like the author hadn't even bothered to read more than (perhaps) one of the short stories and decided she would figure the rest out by watching a few recent action movies vaguely based on the books. This usually doesn't work when people give a book presentation at school based on this method, and it didn't work here either. Another part of the problem is that the main reason for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to be dragged into this seems to have been to use them as love interests, the first for the allegedly exceptionally logical and clever Mary Jekyll, the second possibly for Beatrice Rappaccini, even if it might be only as a kind of cruel comic relief. While Dr. Watson is known to have an interest in women, Sherlock Holmes is basically famous for not having that, no matter what else he might or might not experience concerning more tender passions. But what was far more irritating to me is that a short research on Wikipedia even would have told the author that Sherlock Holmes would have to be over fourty in her story (because he'd be only available in London again after 1894 due to the small matter of him pretending to be dead after ridding the world of the late Professor Moriarty - but who's counting inconsistencies?), about twice the age of his supposed inamorata who is 21. And while Miss Rappaccini might perhaps be slightly older than that, Dr. Watson also is the older of the two men, and recently widowed... Call me unromantic and closeminded - but even Jane Austen's Mr Knightley would have been a few years closer to Emma than that. This is getting close to Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester - and look how well that went! Honestly, the group of young women would have been totally fine (and capable of solving this mystery) with hardly any changes to the storyline if Holmes and Watson were just taken out of the equation altogether. They feel obsolete and unnecessary. And I'm also not a fan of love stories without 'chemistry' - there could have been far more interesting and believable combinations from the large group of characters more elementary to the plot (which might have made the book less 'straight as a ruler', though). Secondly: the time paradox. This might definitely be a point hardly anyone gets upset over aside from me, I'll own that, and happily. When I read books that are set in (pseudo)historical times, I need to see that reflected in the language as well as the attitude of the characters (aside from, obviously, the 'scenery' in respect to dress codes, technical development, etc.) or I won't be able to 'believe' it. This book is hardly the first case of an author failing there for me - and it isn't the worst case I've seen. But still: Mary Jekyll, for the first few chapters, wasn't even doing too badly in that respect - until she... met people. Which is a pity because she gets to meet a lot of them. And in this first book of a series at least she's the only character who gets to have more than one to two character traits and thus to feel like more than a stock character - at least that's how it felt to me. It works even less for the rest. It felt as if there was so much attention given to making each character 'quirky' in a different way that giving them depth or a historically believable attitude was somehow forgotten in the process. The problem is that there are simply too many historically contemporary examples (even outside the 'origin' narrations of the characters) of Victorian social life and etiquette in literature to not notice when an author fails by using the period merely decorationally without managing to get the characters to behave, well, in character. Thirdly (and finally): the author's distrust in the reader. Again, this might well be a pet peeve of mine, and mine only. But when an author takes the time to place hints for the reader, maybe even not that subtly at times, to come to the right conclusions - maybe don't have characters state the obvious again, and again, and again, just in case somebody missed all the broad hints because they somehow managed to read with their eyes shut? Also, it doesn't necessarily make the reader believe in a character's brilliance of mind if they only get to a certain explanation/solution half a book after the reader did... An especially prominent example for this were the interjections into the story (which I found quite interesting in the beginning but learnt to be wary of later because they turned into a mixture of 'captain obvious's corner', 'tell-don't show-theatre' and a less humourous version of the 'Mythenmetz'sche Abschweifung'). To sum it all up again, this book wasn't for me, and I will not continue the series for my own peace of mind. And I feel somewhat cheated for that.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This was a funny, clever romp through Victorian Monsters ( Jackyl and Hyde, Moureau and some of his creations, Frankenstein,.Sherlock Holmes and Watson are also characters. I enjoyed the humour. The female characters were a great mix of personalities. I especially liked Mrs Poole, the cook. Together they become the Athena Club and the ending has set us up nicely for the sequel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brogan Lane

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Here be monsters This is, without a doubt, one of my top reads of 2021. Theodora Goss expertly and intelligently brought Gothic literature together in The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. I don't understand why this book isn't more hyped - because it should. It's fantastic. I was hooked from page 1. It is a brilliant homage to Gothic literature - about mad scientists, man vs nature, duality, religion vs science, isolation and monsters. While Gothic literature primarily focuses on man, Th Here be monsters This is, without a doubt, one of my top reads of 2021. Theodora Goss expertly and intelligently brought Gothic literature together in The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. I don't understand why this book isn't more hyped - because it should. It's fantastic. I was hooked from page 1. It is a brilliant homage to Gothic literature - about mad scientists, man vs nature, duality, religion vs science, isolation and monsters. While Gothic literature primarily focuses on man, Theodora Goss focuses on women and girls, and not just 'normal' women/girls, but monstrous, strange and weird women/girls. In Goss' Acknowledgments at the back, she says 'this novel began as a question I asked myself while writing my doctoral dissertation: Why did so many of the mad scientists in nineteenth-century narratives create, or start creating but then destroy female monsters? I didn't get a chance to answer that question within the dissertation itself, so I tried to answer it here, in a different way.' How brilliant! And I think she answered it: if given that much power, women could change the world. I've read Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I loved, as I was reading this, seeing how Goss interlaced those elements and characters together. I felt like Steve Rogers when he said 'I understood that reference'. But there were stories I didn't know, that made me curious and horrified and kinda eager to read about. I thought everything about this book was well-crafted - to the characters and to the plot. The way it was written was one of my favourite things - we as a reader are consuming this book as if one of the characters, Catherine, has written and published it. It includes commentary from all of the members of The Athena Club, and it oftentimes was absolutely hilarious. It is genius. I cannot wait to pick up the second and third instalment and seeing what The Athena Club get up to next!

  27. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    quick thoughts: the moment riley marie talked about this book in her vlog, i knew it was going to be a new favourite of mine too. PROS • fun. i read this, mostly, during my state's first proper lockdown and it was a breath of fresh air. • found family. i sound like a broken record at this point but found family is my favourite trope. there's nothing quite like a ragtag group of misfits finding each other and making a home where they can all be their unabashed selves. • the writing style. the book quick thoughts: the moment riley marie talked about this book in her vlog, i knew it was going to be a new favourite of mine too. PROS • fun. i read this, mostly, during my state's first proper lockdown and it was a breath of fresh air. • found family. i sound like a broken record at this point but found family is my favourite trope. there's nothing quite like a ragtag group of misfits finding each other and making a home where they can all be their unabashed selves. • the writing style. the book itself is written like the girls are writing an account of their adventures. catherine, a novelist, is in charge but the other characters write in the margins & interrupt when they think catherine is romanticising a certain moment or interject to say, 'no, i wasn't *scared* then, i don't get scared' or 'i was not blushing! the sun had gotten to my cheeks'. it adds this whole other layer to the story, and the banter? top notch. • the whole cast. it is rare that i don't have a favourite narrator in a book with multiple perspectives, but the entire cast was delightful. i loved the whole crew, down to charlie & mrs poole. • girl fighting their abusive fathers. a squad of women that society has snubbed overcoming systemic obstacles to band together and save other women from their abusive fathers? hell yeah. • sherlock. i'm basic. i love me a sherlock retelling 🤷 CONS • the pacing. it was a tiny bit on the dense side. i know a lot of historical fiction favour a slower pace (which i actually like), but it did stagnate a little in the middle. • the "time-period appropriate" -ism. again, i know historical fiction tends to be as accurate to the era as possible, but i can't deny it is extremely difficult to read blatant ableism, racism & misogyny regardless. there is a fair amount of ableism and sex worker shaming as well as two downright racist sentences (as quoted below) which easily could have been edited out. the racist comments on pages 199 & 347 respectively (in my edition): "To those readers who are not familiar with London, who may be reading this in the wilds of America, where we hear there are bears and savages, or in the wilds of Australia, where there are also savages but no bears (unless, adds Justine, they are marsupial bears), the problem that now presented itself to Catherine and Diana was as follows." and "And he was excited: he had finally decided that we would go to Africa. With our superior strength, we could traverse jungles and desert that made the interior of the continent dangerous for white men. We would see what no European had ever seen. Surely the rude savages would worship us as gods." ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[misogyny, ableism & ableist language, sex worker shaming & slurs, underage sex work recounted, domestic abuse mentioned, psychiatric hospitalisation, the suicide of a parent mentioned, suicide & suicidal ideation mentioned, alcohol consumption, pregnancy & teen pregnancy mentioned, graphic dead body & body parts, blood & gore depiction, physical injuries & illness, nonconsensual surgery mentioned, dismemberment and decapitation discussed, nonconsensual medical experimentation (central theme), death of father & mother, death of an infant recounted, murder & attempted murder (multiple on-page & recounted), strangulation, poisoning, kidnapping & confinement, animal experimentation (off-page), animal death, and poverty themes (hide spoiler)] . Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Having taken my sweet time to get around to this one, I'm glad I finally did; Theodora Goss has written a story that reads like comfort food tastes. The idea of taking various female Victorian literary mad scientists, and bringing their daughters - or "daughters", as the case may be - together, is a great one - as Theodora Goss notes herself in the acknowledgements, there was a trend, for a while, of bringing women into the story as the subject of their various experiments. She's given them back Having taken my sweet time to get around to this one, I'm glad I finally did; Theodora Goss has written a story that reads like comfort food tastes. The idea of taking various female Victorian literary mad scientists, and bringing their daughters - or "daughters", as the case may be - together, is a great one - as Theodora Goss notes herself in the acknowledgements, there was a trend, for a while, of bringing women into the story as the subject of their various experiments. She's given them back an agency by bringing them together, and the progression of their friendships was drawn subtly and felt authentic. It is a bit slow in places, but in some moods that works for me - at other times, I did get a bit impatient. Though there is more of a mystery tone, I'd compare it to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; they suit if you're looking to sit down and be wrapped in a warm blanket rather than sit on the edge of your seat. The writing is good, there's some moments anyone with a sister will recognise as almost too believable, and I'll definitely be moving on to the next in the series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    When we meet Mary Jekyll, she’s in a sorry state. Her mother has just died after many years of madness, and Mary is left in her family home, already stripped of valuables over the years as she sold whatever she could in order to make ends meet. Now, Mary has no choice but to dismiss the household staff, count her few remaining coins, and try to find a way to eke out a few more. When Mary learns that her mother was sending regular payments to “Hyde”, care of a religious society, she’s both suspic When we meet Mary Jekyll, she’s in a sorry state. Her mother has just died after many years of madness, and Mary is left in her family home, already stripped of valuables over the years as she sold whatever she could in order to make ends meet. Now, Mary has no choice but to dismiss the household staff, count her few remaining coins, and try to find a way to eke out a few more. When Mary learns that her mother was sending regular payments to “Hyde”, care of a religious society, she’s both suspicious of blackmail and motivated to find out more. Seeking the help of the famous Sherlock Holmes, Mary sets out to discover the truth about these payments, and ends up stumbling into the mystery of the Whitechapel murders as well. Could there be a connection? As the story progresses, Mary learns that her deceased father was a member of a secret society dedicated to scientific pursuit outside the bounds of the established scientific community. Specifically, these mad scientists seem to be dedicated to transmutation — pursuing a faster path to evolution by creating new forms of life. Mary’s investigations lead her to the daughters/creations of these men. Soon, this group of women are bound together by circumstance as well as affection, as they pursue the truth about their fathers’ Society of Alchemists and end up fighting for their lives. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is utterly charming and engaging. It’s a clever concept, bringing together a group of young women who are at best side notes in the original classic fiction from which they and their fathers originate and placing them at center stage. As the author makes clear, these women cannot and and will not be thought of as scientific oddities; they are unique individuals, new and different and outside the norms of society, yet with rich inner lives and a strong will to set the course of their own lives. The writing here is smart and quirky. The book is presented as the narrative of the women’s adventure as written by Catherine — but throughout the book, the others interject their comments and critiques, pointing out places where Catherine is being too flowery or dramatic, or where she’s getting the details wrong. Meanwhile, as Mary meets each new character, they get the chance to tell their own stories, and each one is powerful and fascinating. There’s plenty of action, and quite a bit of humor. The Victorian setting works perfectly as a backdrop for the adventure. I always love stories of found families, and this one is a terrific example. All these women have been maltreated and discarded, but together, they form a new family in order to face the world together. As with any family, there are squabbles and disagreements and bickering, but at bedrock, there’s also love and support and protection — the whole is definitely greater than its parts. There are two more books in the series, and I do intend to continue… although I may hold off for a little while, after realizing that book #2, European Travels for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, is over 700 pages. Still, I definitely want to see what happens next with this eccentric group of daring women! Highly recommended! Fans of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger and the Veronica Speedwell books by Deanna Raybourn will appreciate the setting, the bantering, and the role of the scientifically adventurous women. It’s all great fun — don’t miss it!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This went from charming to cheesy in the second half. Review to come.

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