Author: Theodora Goss
Publisher: Saga Press
First Published: 20 June 2017
Rating: 5 stars
“We are no longer in the age of Charles Dickens or George Eliot, after all. We are Modern. And, of course monstrous …”
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, Catherine 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.
This was an amazing adventure and had me totally engrossed from the opening sentence. This story reminds me of the TV show Penny Dreadful mixed with the X-men franchise.
Theodora Goss says in the novel began with a question: Why did so many of the mad scientists in nineteenth-century narratives create, or start to create but then destroy, female monsters? In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Goss gives adjacency and a voice to these characters and compiles them into one kickass girl gang.
The narrative is told in a unique way, one I’ve never seen before. Sprinkled throughout are comments from each of the female characters. Which really helps to make them feel like fully formed characters. Each of the girls has their own distinct voice. Towards the end, I’d skip over the names but would still know who was adding in their commentary. I am seriously in awe of Goss because that is so hard to do especially when you have 5 protagonists.
I also adore that we get to see each of the girl’s history and how they were created. But only when it was important to help uncover the mystery of whom this secret society is and who’s responsible for the brutal murders taking places on London’s streets.
The mystery element was really well done. I enjoyed the appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. What makes it even sweeter was that Mary Jekyll and the girls where really the ones to unpick the mystery.
Not going to lie, I brought the sequel European Travels for Monstrous Gentlewomen right after I finished this book. I cannot wait to see who makes an appearance next and where their adventure leads them.
I highly recommend if you love girl gangs, mystery storylines and to see what Goss does with these, otherwise voiceless, nineteenth-century characters.