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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter…

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter (2017)

by Theodora Goss

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The description of the book is not nearly as appealing as the book itself. A collection of the female "monsters", or the daughters of male "monsters" of nineteenth century English literature work together to solve a series of murders. The group is wonderful and I hope there will be at least the hinted at sequel. ( )
  crankybookwyrm | Sep 10, 2017 |
A mystery set in the late 19th century, in which most of the characters are borrowed from, or are the offspring of characters from, 19th century Gothic and mystery fiction.

After her mother dies, Mary Jekyll decides to improve her financial situation by finding her father’s murderer, Mr Hyde, and claiming the reward. Instead she finds herself saddled with Hyde’s high spirited teenaged daughter, becomes involved in Sherlock Holmes’ investigation into murder of girls in Whitechapel, and invites several women who are the result of monstrous experimentation to join her household...

The relationships between the girls and women of Mary’s household are at the centre of this story. Together they set about unravelling the mystery about the Société de Alchimistes - and then they write their story. The story told predominantly from Mary’s point of view, but is being written by Catherine, with interruptions from the others. These women, who are denied a voice in their original narratives, here get to argue about how their story is told and offer commentary on the act of storytelling.

I read most of the stories The Strange Case draws upon when I was at university, and I was delighted to see them all woven together like this. It’s all very meta in a way I really appreciated. I also liked the way Holmes appears in, but does not dominate, the story.

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! And yet she felt, too, as though in putting on men’s clothes, she had lost a part of herself. It was a confusing sensation. ( )
1 vote Herenya | Sep 1, 2017 |
It turns out that all of the great gothic horror stories, Frankenstein, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, Dr. Moreau, and more, are all interconnected by virtue of the scientists being part of the Société des Alchimiste. Eventually a number of the daughters, both literal and spiritual, of these men find themselves thrown together helping Sherlock Holmes solve the Whitechapel Murders. By then end they have proclaimed themselves a family, of sorts, and the Athena Society, dedicated to finding, exposing, and possibly wiping out, the Société des Alchimiste.

Given that ending, we're almost assured of a series of books. In a work of meta-meta fiction, one of the characters is writing the story of the founding of the Athena Society while the other characters regularly break the fourth wall and comment on the story as it is being written. If not handled very carefully this could easily become tiresome over the course of several books. In this case it served to pre-introduce some of the characters, and made it fun to try and figure out who they were before they were fully introduced.

Having a book driven entirely by female characters opposed to the irresponsible behavior of their fathers/creators is interesting enough, but the "independent" women are not all that independent. Holmes has to help them financially and lend his authority and they are still, mostly, subservient Victorian women. A far better example of flipping the roles and throwing light on gender stereotypes is the Madame Vastra character from Doctor Who.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is a decent book, a fun read, and I'll probably read the next case from the Athena Society. But its main success was in introducing me to some more obscure gothic horror and convincing me to read several of the original stories that I had never gotten around to. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Aug 27, 2017 |
I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to read more adventures of the Athena Club. It has all the elements from the classic monster horror stories, along with a take on the Jack the Ripper White Chapel murders,the insane Renfield from Dracula, and the famous Sherlock Holmes, all woven together into a very entertaining story, and written from a female point of view.
I am looking forward to the seeing where Mary Jekyll, Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, Diana Hyde and Beatrice Rappaccini go next. This book suggests that it may lead to Van Helsing and Dracula. ( )
  marysneedle | Aug 17, 2017 |
When Mary Jekyll's mother dies, leaving her a nearly penniless orphan in her early twenties, Mary suddenly finds out that her father and his associates may have had some secrets.

In a romp that involved characters from multiple classics, Mary and her new friends interjecting their comments throughout, this was an enjoyable adventurous mystery that I enjoyed reading. It didn't resolve much, however, and mostly set up what I think is a planned series. I was interested enough that I'll probably look for the sequel. ( )
  bell7 | Aug 1, 2017 |
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Here be monsters.
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Mary Jekyll stared down at her mother's coffin.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 148146650X, Hardcover)

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 14 Jan 2017 23:34:10 -0500)

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