The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1)

by Theodora Goss

This is a female-centric, super fun romp of a story that focuses on the “daughters” of famous literary characters/monsters in a way that will thrill fans of Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and Moreau.

Mary Jekyll’s mother has just died and she is now left without financial resources and must make her own way in the world as an orphan. Untangling her parents’ legal affairs leads to a mysterious amount of money her mother paid monthly for “Hyde”– the very unsavory associate blamed for a notorious murder. In untangling the mystery, Mary will encounter a secret society of scientists who in the name of science have experimented on women to create a motley group of ‘monsters’ that readers will happily identify from horror classics.

The overall theme of femininity, the fine line between science and ethics, the empowerment of women, and the fan-list of horror classics characters is sure to please. The narrative framework is that Catherine Moreau is “writing” their story and is often interrupted by complaints from the other characters. This is fun for about half of the book.

For the second half, I wanted to focus in more on their current mystery and have less of the extraneous chatter (the chatter was great at foreshadowing and drawing me into the story at first, but it became noise after that task was accomplished). By the time we got to Justine (Frankenstein)’s story, I have to admit I was skimming just to get back to the modern day plot developments.

So while super-fun, it did get a little bogged down at the end. Still, the story ends with an intriguing letter from someone named “Van Helsing” so I do have to read the next book just to see what spin Goss puts on that!