The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
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, 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.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter Details

TitleThe Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 10th, 2017
PublisherSaga Press
ISBN1534409637
ISBN-139781534409637
Number of pages416 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Retellings, Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter Review

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    June 20, 2017
    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 mo 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!
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    June 15, 2017
    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.
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  • Book Riot Community
    June 21, 2017
    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 CavellaroTune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
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  • Sheila {ShesGoingBookCrazy.com}
    June 19, 2017
    View this entire review along with others on my blog at: She's Going Book CrazyRelease date June 20, 2017!I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. We are no longer in the age of Charles Dickens or George Eliot, after all. We are modern. And, of course, monstrous... It turns out that Dr. Jekyll had a daughter.The story follows the accounts of Dr. Jekyll's daughter, Mary Jekyll, who is mourning the loss of her late mother. Losing both of her parent View this entire review along with others on my blog at: She's Going Book CrazyRelease date June 20, 2017!I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. We are no longer in the age of Charles Dickens or George Eliot, after all. We are modern. And, of course, monstrous... It turns out that Dr. Jekyll had a daughter.The story follows the accounts of Dr. Jekyll's daughter, Mary Jekyll, who is mourning the loss of her late mother. Losing both of her parents has placed her in a precarious position; all of her father's wealth was lost, and a once high-borne lady realizes that before long, she will be destitute. Stumbling across some old documents and letters, Mary becomes enthralled by the odd history of her father, a scientist named Dr. Jekyll, whom had committed suicide years earlier. His previous entanglement with the unpleasant and even more mysterious Mr. Hyde, leads Mary on a path to try and find him, as evidence appears that he may still be around. Her searching ends up being fruitful, but in ways neither she, nor the reader could foresee. Written in a fun and interactive style with both characters and reader, Goss captures the audiance and immerses them into a new mystery told from old tales. -------------------------------This retelling is inspired from the classic horror stories of: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, Van Helsing, Dracula (Mr. Renfield,) Frankenstein, Rappaccini's daughter, and Dr. Moreau. What are these characters (not all) without daughters? Exactly. Nothing! I'm joking. However, it made for a creative and enjoyable concept. If you are a fan of ultimate shows of "girl power," this might be for you. These women (and girl) create a uniquely proportioned "team" in order to stand up against the mad scientists of old, who brought some of the Gothic horrors into being. Each of them has someone they are looking for---or answers they are seeking to reveal, causing their paths to weave together in ways that fate couldn't have done better at.The main point of view is written from Mary's standpoint. However, each character quite literally has their own voice in writing parts of the story. I loved the style in which this book was written. I found the characters' interjections refreshing and quite funny---there were a few times I laughed out loud. While I do not consider this to be a hard core mystery, it definitely draws from the genre as Mary and the "monster" gang (as Diana often refers to them being) assemble and uncover secrets on the hidden organization they are hunting. The combination of femininity, comic relief, mystery, and horror brought a new perspective and light to these well-known stories. The climax of this story happens at around 80%, so the last portion of the book went on and on. It sets itself up for a sequel, so I believe this will be a series. With well developed characters, and a mission to fulfill, I will be anticipating for more from the women of the Athena Club.Vulgarity: I believe there is some here and there. Oh wait, yes of course. Diana is in this book.Violence: Quite a bit, but without much detail.Sexual content: There are references as prostitutes and prostitution are common, but there is nothing explicit or overly-inappropriate. 3.5 stars.A big thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!
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  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    June 26, 2017
    4 stars!This was a delight. Funny, great characters, and very well written. This is an adventure, mystery, historical fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. The only bad part is that I have to wait for the sequel. I want it now!Mary Jekyll's mother has just passed away after many years of illness and Mary discovers that she is now penniless. The small annuity paid to her mother during her life had supported them both, and it didn't pass down to Mary. When Mary's father died years ago he left o 4 stars!This was a delight. Funny, great characters, and very well written. This is an adventure, mystery, historical fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. The only bad part is that I have to wait for the sequel. I want it now!Mary Jekyll's mother has just passed away after many years of illness and Mary discovers that she is now penniless. The small annuity paid to her mother during her life had supported them both, and it didn't pass down to Mary. When Mary's father died years ago he left only debt, all of his money having been transferred, before his death, to some mysterious person in Hungary. All she has is the house, which no one will buy, twelve pounds, five shillings and three pence, and a portfolio containing some very odd letters and papers that had belonged to her father.After the family solicitor informs Mary that her mother had been sending money each month to The Society of St. Mary Magdalen for the "care and keeping of Hyde", Mary decides to investigate. Her pursuit of the truth leads her all over Victorian London, sleuthing with the greatest detective of them all.What does she find? I'm not going to tell because I don't want to spoil it for you. Books like this one, full of one incident after another can be so easily spoiled by giving away too many plot points. Suffice it to say that she has adventures, makes some unusual new friends and is no longer lonely.I would have given this book another half star, but I didn't like the interruption of the narrative by the characters in the present, bickering about how the story was being told. At first it was funny, then as the story progressed it became irritating. It's a testament to Ms. Goss's excellent writing that that this unnecessary and annoying element didn't put more of a dent in my enjoyment.
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  • FrankieReads
    June 26, 2017
    What an excellent read! This was hands down one of my favorites so far of 2017. Somehow Goss is able to create a patchwork story made with threads from several classic horror tales, mixed heavily with her own brand of tale weaving. Though the book features elements of classic stories we all know and love, Goss does not scrimp on the creativity. She has created an entirely enjoyable story all her own that left me wanting to read more books from this world.I loved ALL of the wonderful women and gi What an excellent read! This was hands down one of my favorites so far of 2017. Somehow Goss is able to create a patchwork story made with threads from several classic horror tales, mixed heavily with her own brand of tale weaving. Though the book features elements of classic stories we all know and love, Goss does not scrimp on the creativity. She has created an entirely enjoyable story all her own that left me wanting to read more books from this world.I loved ALL of the wonderful women and girls featured in this story, but Mary, Diana, and their housekeeper were my favs. All of these women were at times brave, intelligent, witty, funny, romantic, and most of all INTERESTING! Goss did a wonderful job with giving backstories, while still keeping the current plot line moving forward at a pretty good clip.I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the Mary Russel series by Laurie R. King. Also, for those middle grade readers who are looking for some adult fiction - fans of the Lockwood & Co. series would enjoy this book. It feels like there's a set up for future books. {THE ATHENA CLUB} ***SQUEE!!!*** If that is the case, I'll definitely be picking up the next installment in this series.
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  • Maria
    June 25, 2017
    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.
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  • Diana
    June 28, 2017
    Hampered by self-congratulationA fabulous premise that suffers from the use of interjected commentary courtesy of its characters. Quickly, I began rolling my eyes at the "great writing!" remarks they kept complimenting with. Still, there is much to like about the novel, especially the first half. Goss doesn't have an ear for period speech and her feminism imposed on 19th century women can feel forced and stilted, but I appreciated the vivid characterizations of the women featured in the story an Hampered by self-congratulationA fabulous premise that suffers from the use of interjected commentary courtesy of its characters. Quickly, I began rolling my eyes at the "great writing!" remarks they kept complimenting with. Still, there is much to like about the novel, especially the first half. Goss doesn't have an ear for period speech and her feminism imposed on 19th century women can feel forced and stilted, but I appreciated the vivid characterizations of the women featured in the story and their prominence therein.
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  • ManaChelle
    June 25, 2017
    There are so many legendary characters included in this book! New ones are also being introduced. Love it!
  • Amy A
    June 12, 2017
    Originally posted at Vampire Book ClubThe recent death of her mother, after the death of her father fourteen year earlier, leaves Mary Jekyll in dire straits. With little money remaining and nothing new coming in, Mary must find a way to support herself. But as a series of unsolved, gruesome murders plagues the streets of London, Mary begins to believe her father’s former friend Edward Hyde might be back. Looking to cash in on a reward for the apprehension of Hyde, piecing the clues together, wi Originally posted at Vampire Book ClubThe recent death of her mother, after the death of her father fourteen year earlier, leaves Mary Jekyll in dire straits. With little money remaining and nothing new coming in, Mary must find a way to support herself. But as a series of unsolved, gruesome murders plagues the streets of London, Mary begins to believe her father’s former friend Edward Hyde might be back. Looking to cash in on a reward for the apprehension of Hyde, piecing the clues together, with the help of one famous detective and his Doctor friend, all roads lead to the discovery of Diana Hyde.Diana’s discovery unveils a mysterious secret society of scientists whose former experiments are all coming out of the woodwork. Together with Catherine Moreau, Beatrice Rappaccini, and Justine Frankenstein, Mary will uncover the mystery surrounding their pasts and the society and hopefully stop a murderer before his next kill.I feel like it’s a trend right now to kind of go back to the classics. I like Theodora Goss’s take on this trend, however, in how she expands upon the classics. It was a very interesting choice to take the “next generation” of monsters as the case may be and make them the heroines of our story.I also liked the way in which the story is told. That is, once I got used to it. Strange Case is set up as being told to readers by the girls themselves after the fact, complete with interjections from said girls at various intervals throughout the narrative—which prove to be quite hilarious at times. They’re basically writing down their story for publication. I really felt the distinct voices of each of our main characters.The characterization of Sherlock Holmes proved to be rather interesting as well. His appearance here just felt off, but then I have to think it’s because of how he’s viewed by our “narrators/writers.” Especially considering that Holmes’ own adventures are conveyed to the masses by Dr. Watson, therefore his characterization is subjected there by Watson himself. I like the idea of perspective that this represents.Despite Strange Case being primarily Mary’s story, I really enjoyed Beatrice Rappaccini the most. Probably because she’s the character whose classical story I’m completely unfamiliar. I’d say with names like, Jekyll, Hyde, Moreau, and Frankenstein it’s pretty easy to deduce things about the other characters. For those like me: Rappaccini’s Daughter is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorn about a young woman who, working with her father’s poisonous plants, has become poisonous herself and, sadly, has the ability to kill with a single touch. I think out of the five, she definitely has some of the more difficult experiences, at least right now.The mystery dealing with the unsolved murders is more of a secondary role to that of the mystery surround the girls’ lives and the society that bred them, and we only crack the surface of that mystery by the end. There are various references to other adventures our group of “monsters” get into throughout the narrative. I hope that they’ll get a chance to share them with us some time.
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  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    June 28, 2017
    If I had to describe this book in one word, it'd be "delightful." One of my favorite shows is Penny Dreadful, primarily because it mashes literary characters all together in one world, which is exactly what The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter does. Though I didn't recognize all the references made to other classics, I did pick up on a few such as Jekyll & Hide, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and so on.This book wasn't what I expected at all. The story starts off much as you would ex If I had to describe this book in one word, it'd be "delightful." One of my favorite shows is Penny Dreadful, primarily because it mashes literary characters all together in one world, which is exactly what The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter does. Though I didn't recognize all the references made to other classics, I did pick up on a few such as Jekyll & Hide, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and so on.This book wasn't what I expected at all. The story starts off much as you would expect, the classic narrative, then suddenly the characters are jumping in with commentary as the story's being told! At first, I wasn't sure what to think about it but it soon became a source of humor as the women jumped in to correct the "author" on what actually happened and provide snippets of additional info. Y'all know I love a snarky character and these women had it in spades.But what sold it for me is that this book kept to the classics while also re-inventing them. I felt as though I was reading Frankenstein (one of my favorites) or one of the many adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Goss creates a world that remains true to the original works but then spins it by introducing the daughters of some of the literary greats. You first meet Mary Jekyll, daughter of the infamous doctor. Diana Hyde comes in later, as well as another creation of Dr. Frankenstein, and even the famous Holmes and Watson duo. Each draws on their respective inspirations while bringing together a fun cast of fictional daughters.I did have issues with the pacing a bit, more so at the end where the story sped up in contrast to the rest of it. Some of the commentary, while amusing, was at very inopportune moments that broke the tension of a scene or slowed it down. Or both. Then again, though this starts as what could be a thriller of sorts, it's quickly turned on its head and proved more of a humorous mystery type of book.I'll say that I didn't really read this one for the plot. While intriguing, the characters and their classical tie-ins were of more interest and if you enjoy where they all came from, I think you'll like this story as well. The unique style and different take on a "re-telling" of sorts made it a stand-out in the genre for me. The spin on monsters only added to this effect. Definitely recommend, and look forward to more by this author!
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  • Jen
    June 5, 2017
    Another favorite book for the year, and one so different from any of the others! The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is a mash-up that involves characters from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, Rappacini's Daughter, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, and Dracula. From this pantheon of some of my favorite classic science fiction/horror novels, Goss plucks characters like Mr. Hyde and Beatrice Rappacini and creates characters like Mary Jekyll and Diana Hy Another favorite book for the year, and one so different from any of the others! The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is a mash-up that involves characters from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, Rappacini's Daughter, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, and Dracula. From this pantheon of some of my favorite classic science fiction/horror novels, Goss plucks characters like Mr. Hyde and Beatrice Rappacini and creates characters like Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde. She takes incidents from the original stories and recasts them or concocts "new" information and events. And it works! If you've loved these classics as I have, you will find Gross's novel delightful, but even if you are not familiar with the originals, the story is still fun as these women unite to fight a secret society of power-mad scientists. My only complaint is that in the first couple of chapters there are too many unnecessary editorial interruptions as the characters give their opinions about what is being recorded. Catherine is the main author, but the characters are all present as the story is being written and want to give their thoughts and assessments. For me, this was too frequent at the beginning and distracted from the plot.As the story moves on, however, these asides(?) became less frequent and more enjoyable.What an adventure, what a pleasure this book was! I can't wait for more from Theodora Gross about these women. Digression: The words "monstrous regiment of women" kept echoing in my head as I read, but I couldn't remember the context. Oh, yeah, that interfering misogynist who railed against female sovereigns because women had no business taking precedence over men, the repellent John Knox. In his tract The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women gave his opinion about female sovereigns ("monstrous" meant unnatural and "regiment" meant rule, not a military division). According to Knox, it was unnatural for women to be heads of state and Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Mary of England had to endure his despicable influence. Elizabeth I detested him. Miserable man.Anyway, the phrase "monstrous regiment of women" works perfectly well with a different slant in this refreshing and amusing book, as Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappacini, Catherine Montgomery, and Justine Moritz (bride of Frankenstein), a very different Mrs. Poole than the one in Jane Eyre--work with Holmes and Watson to solve the murders of young women in London. A cadre of unique women who solve crimes.The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is a winner in my book.NetGalley/Saga PressSciFi/Fantasy. June 20, 2017. Print version: 416 pages.
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  • Matthew Galloway
    May 18, 2017
    Incredibly clever and enjoyable. The core idea was so much fun and I look forward to seeing it expanded. Of course, the women in this story are inspired by older tales I've loved for a long time. The writing style is excellent, though I'm not sure the asides were necessary. They are good ways to delve into who the characters are, though. I never understood why the Jeckyll and Hyde daughters counted as monsters, though perhaps I am being too literal.
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  • Jana
    June 17, 2017
    Rating: 4.5 stars. Review posted at Fantasy Literature.
  • Paul Sparks
    June 22, 2017
    Maybe the most fun I've had with a book all year. I can't wait for the second one.
  • Galen Strickland
    June 13, 2017
    Not perfect, but since half stars or other fractions aren't allowed, four stars just doesn't do this justice. It's a quick and entertaining read, but also serious on several issues. One of the best I've read this year. Full review at http://templetongate.net/alchemistsda...
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  • Jack Vasen
    May 14, 2017
    This story is a very interesting twist on Sherlock Holmes, Island of Doctor Moreau, the various Frankenstein stories, and Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Twists include the fact that the real heroes or really heroines are all women, and those women are female products of the title characters of these stories. I say "products" because some are daughters, and some are more literally creations. The story follows the pattern of a Sherlock Holmes story, and Holmes is part of it.It is at times amusing. This story is a very interesting twist on Sherlock Holmes, Island of Doctor Moreau, the various Frankenstein stories, and Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Twists include the fact that the real heroes or really heroines are all women, and those women are female products of the title characters of these stories. I say "products" because some are daughters, and some are more literally creations. The story follows the pattern of a Sherlock Holmes story, and Holmes is part of it.It is at times amusing. For example, the narrative is often interrupted by the characters themselves commenting as if over the shoulder of the author.There is a good mystery story delivered although I did not like (view spoiler)[ that the climax and pretty much the resolution of the mystery was delivered several chapters before the end of the book and some of what follows is wrap up including a backstory for Justine. Even though much of the mystery is resolved, there are many loose ends and an obvious tease for a sequel or even a series of books. (hide spoiler)]As elsewhere I answered a question: this book definitely contains murder and violence and even mutilated corpses. However I would not say it is any more appropriate for teens than Hunger Games which in recent years has been a popular teen franchise. Stories like Frankenstein are classics and required body parts and stories like Sherlock Holmes require murders. I don't consider this gory.There is no sex and the foul language is archaic and would not be considered such in the 21st century.
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  • Cherei
    April 14, 2017
    The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is one of the best books I've read. Ever. And, I've read gazillions. I have never read Theodora Goss previously. And, now.. I cannot believe that I had not stumbled upon her works before. What a fantastic, imaginative, superbly well written story! The characters were so well written.. that one becomes a mouse in the corner watching all of the events as they go along. The pace is perfect. The characters are perfect. This will become a beloved series. O The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is one of the best books I've read. Ever. And, I've read gazillions. I have never read Theodora Goss previously. And, now.. I cannot believe that I had not stumbled upon her works before. What a fantastic, imaginative, superbly well written story! The characters were so well written.. that one becomes a mouse in the corner watching all of the events as they go along. The pace is perfect. The characters are perfect. This will become a beloved series. One that I'm happy to have found from the start!I love the concept.. of all of the various "daughters" of the 1890's well-known literary characters coming to life. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Moreau, Frankenstein, etc.. Toss in some other literary characters.. Sherlock and Dr. Watson, Renfield, Van Helsing and Jack the Ripper. Murders and mayhem. This story will suck you in.. and you WILL savor every delightful morsel! I highly recommend reading this book. I look forward to other books in the series. (it was somewhat difficult to discern if the author intends upon this being a series... but, I do hope she does!) The language flows so easily. The mystery is slowly unraveled. The clues not so obvious. The characters become family within your mind. There are some characters.. who's story was not written about.. I still need to know Renfield's involvement. And, of course.. what the heck becomes of .. Ohhhhhh.. You'll have to read this book to know whom I am speaking of.. hehe.
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  • Tim Hicks
    June 29, 2017
    Didn't work for me. Basic idea good, but nah. I like the idea of "what happened to the female monsters?" and I like the idea of bringing together the characters here. But the book drags in a lot of places, and let my attention wander in others. Such as the way at least characters can pick a lock in seconds with a hatpin. A moment with Google suggests that even Victorian locks required a rather more sophisticated toolkit. Or why some of the characters are vastly strong simply because they have el Didn't work for me. Basic idea good, but nah. I like the idea of "what happened to the female monsters?" and I like the idea of bringing together the characters here. But the book drags in a lot of places, and let my attention wander in others. Such as the way at least characters can pick a lock in seconds with a hatpin. A moment with Google suggests that even Victorian locks required a rather more sophisticated toolkit. Or why some of the characters are vastly strong simply because they have elongated joints. Or how one character's touch can create chemical burns but does nothing to her clothing. Or how a university student can turn into a Pratchettian Igor and stitch together a living creature out of spare parts. Or how Mary can subsist without food and water. Especially food. She bustles around, frequently making sure others have food (and when she isn't, Mrs. Poole is), but Goss reminds us many times that Mary is still hungry. At one point starving Mary is given a tea cake, which would take about 12 seconds to eat. But she puts it in her pocket and gives it away later. (p.s. tea cakes are very crumbly and I don't see this working). Over the next 150 pages or so, Mary watches everyone else tucking into a full breakfast, but accepts only a piece of toast -- and we are not actually told that she eats it. Finally on page 397, Skeleton Mary has some cauliflower soup. Sheesh. Diana has potential. She was actually interesting. I didn't much care to for the frequent interjections from the present by the characters, and I applaud Goss for trying it. It does, however, tell us right away that nothing too bad is going to happen to anyone mentioned, even in a somewhat-dangerous city with some apparently nasty bad guys after them. Renfield was never explained satisfactorily, and Hyde was very much a loose end. Is that required to take us into Volume 2?
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  • Ellen Sandberg
    June 29, 2017
    This was an absolutely joy to read. Theodora Goss is a master storyteller. I have loved her poems and short stories. She understands the essence of myth and fairytales. In this books she introduces us to the daughters/creations of the major mad scientists of 19th century literature. Bad dads does not even come close. Each of the women has her own voice and personality. I loved them all. Mary Jekyll's mother has just passed away. She finds herself without money. There is little left that she can This was an absolutely joy to read. Theodora Goss is a master storyteller. I have loved her poems and short stories. She understands the essence of myth and fairytales. In this books she introduces us to the daughters/creations of the major mad scientists of 19th century literature. Bad dads does not even come close. Each of the women has her own voice and personality. I loved them all. Mary Jekyll's mother has just passed away. She finds herself without money. There is little left that she can sell. She must dismiss her servants. Only the very loyal (and very wonderful) Mrs. Poole stays as an unpaid servant/companion to help Mary. A letter Mary finds in her mother's papers leads her not only to Sherlock Holmes, but to Diana Hyde who may be her half sister. They both become involved helping Holmes solve a series of murders of young women. They discover a secret society might be behind these killings. A society that conducted very strange experiments. Favourite AuthorJekyll/Hyde was a member. But he wasn't alone. They soon find other daughters/creations. The house because a haven and a home to Cat Moreau, Beatrice Rappaccini, and Justine Frankenstein. Despite their differences and some jealousy, these women come to support and care for each other. They have known pain, fear, heartbreak, and betrayal. But they are strong and have survived. These are women I would like to have as friends. I would love to join the Athena Club.I enjoyed the structure of the novel. Their story is being written by Cat Moreau who gives each woman the chance to tell her individual tale. There are frequent interruptions by the women who comment or disagree with the details. It can be quite humourous at times and very touching at others. There is a promise of another book. I cannot wait. This is a delightful new series with complex characters and great depth. I highly recommend it.
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  • Coolcurry
    June 6, 2017
    In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss mixes together some popular literature of the 19th century (particularly science fiction and horror) with an emphasis on female characters.The story opens with Mary Jekyll burying her mother. Her mother’s death has left her penniless, and she has no idea what course her life will now take. Then she discovers that her mother paid a monthly sum for the care of “Hyde.” Mary immediately remembers her father’s old associate, who still has In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss mixes together some popular literature of the 19th century (particularly science fiction and horror) with an emphasis on female characters.The story opens with Mary Jekyll burying her mother. Her mother’s death has left her penniless, and she has no idea what course her life will now take. Then she discovers that her mother paid a monthly sum for the care of “Hyde.” Mary immediately remembers her father’s old associate, who still has a reward out on him for information leading to his capture. She takes the information to London’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his associate Dr. Watson, who are themselves investigating a series of gruesome murders. Mary quickly learns two things. Firstly, “Hyde” is not her father’s old associate but his young and troublesome daughter, Diana. Secondly, the mysteries of her heritage may be bound up in the current murder case.Mary begins gathering around her fellow daughters of literature’s mad scientists. I wasn’t familiar with all of the literature Goss was using, but I knew of most. While I haven’t read the tales Mary Jenkell, Diana Hyde, Catherin Moreau and Justine Frankenstein originated from, pop culture osmosis has come in handy. Beatrice Rappaccini was the only one I was truly unfamiliar with. Turns out she’s from a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” It was quite a lot of fun to read about some well known characters running around London in the 1890’s. Classic Literature fanfic? Then again, so many books can be described that way!The format of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a bit odd, but I liked it. The conceit’s that the book is being written by Catherine, who’s telling the tale of how all these women met. The other women have their own comments and opinions on the story Catherine’s telling, and she includes these in lieu of changing the manuscript to reflect their concerns. The meta-commentary could be delightful, and I think it went a good way towards building the characterization of the women in question. It really helps them come to life.The format does mean that you know ahead of time that the central characters make it through the mystery alive. Indeed, one of them spills the beans with a comment that they solve the case. Of course, I assumed as much when I began the story, so it didn’t take away much from the narrative. Most of the tension comes from lingering questions regarding the women’s heritage, the connections between them, and how they create a new life together.At heart, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is about something I love a lot: a group of extraordinary women coming together and creating a found family. I look forward to whatever Theodora Goss chooses to write next.Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.
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  • Emily Cataneo
    June 27, 2017
    Theodora Goss' debut novel is a compulsively readable and extremely clever story that both celebrates and subverts the Victorian detective and Gothic genres. The book tells the story of five women--all daughters of mad scientists from Victorian literature-- who band together to solve a mystery. The mystery plotline is suspenseful and exciting, but the true heart of the book lies in the relationships between the five women. All five of them have been rendered "monstrous" in some way through the a Theodora Goss' debut novel is a compulsively readable and extremely clever story that both celebrates and subverts the Victorian detective and Gothic genres. The book tells the story of five women--all daughters of mad scientists from Victorian literature-- who band together to solve a mystery. The mystery plotline is suspenseful and exciting, but the true heart of the book lies in the relationships between the five women. All five of them have been rendered "monstrous" in some way through the actions of their fathers, and in reclaiming the women as the protagonists of this story, Goss makes a powerful political statement about how stories change based on the teller. I loved reading the backstories of each of these women, and loved how Goss took her source material and subverted it or expanded on it. I also loved how the narrative, which is presented as a novel written by one of the five monstrous women, is punctuated by comments from the four other characters; these interjections are both entertaining and offer additional commentary about the slippery nature of truth and perspective. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in stories that reclaim characters from a patriarchal narrative and shape them into something new--as well as anyone who likes Victoriana and/or good adventure tales!
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  • Keri (BooksWithKeri)
    June 18, 2017
    The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a brilliantly clever novel inspired by science fiction and mystery stories from the Romantic and Victorian eras of writing. Theodora Goss brings together Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Sherlock Holmes in this fantastic world of murder mystery and secret societies and scientific advances left unchecked. In the story, you follow the daughter of the famous Dr. Jekyll, Mary Jekyll, as she finds out exactly what her father was responsible The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a brilliantly clever novel inspired by science fiction and mystery stories from the Romantic and Victorian eras of writing. Theodora Goss brings together Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau and Sherlock Holmes in this fantastic world of murder mystery and secret societies and scientific advances left unchecked. In the story, you follow the daughter of the famous Dr. Jekyll, Mary Jekyll, as she finds out exactly what her father was responsible for before his death. Over the course of the story, she meets these fantastical women, all daughters of famous scientists and all products of their father’s experiments: Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.Goss keeps the era wonderfully. This feels like a book written in the 1800s. Whilst there is a modern pace throughout, time is taken to describe in a lot of detail the rooms in which Mary finds herself, and places that are visited across London. It’s hard to embody a time in history so different from your own, but Goss succeeds brilliantly.Full Review Here: https://bookswithkeri.wordpress.com/2...
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  • Rene Sears
    June 28, 2017
    I really loved this book. Goss assembles a team of monsters and daughters of monsters from classics of sci fi and horror. They figure out how to related to each other while figuring out what their fathers have done, or are in some cases are still doing (said figuring done with some assistance from a famous detective.) But that doesn't capture the charm of the book. Cat Moreau is writing down their story, and they continually interrupt her in asides that reveal more of their personalities and wha I really loved this book. Goss assembles a team of monsters and daughters of monsters from classics of sci fi and horror. They figure out how to related to each other while figuring out what their fathers have done, or are in some cases are still doing (said figuring done with some assistance from a famous detective.) But that doesn't capture the charm of the book. Cat Moreau is writing down their story, and they continually interrupt her in asides that reveal more of their personalities and what they were actually thinking when events happened (Cat, like most fiction authors, is more interested in what makes a good story than in accuracy.) These asides and the main narrative make for a tale that is as delightfully told as it is delightful. I was so pleased to see there will be a sequel--I really look forward to revisiting these characters.
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  • Jonathan Scotese
    June 22, 2017
    Theodora Goss is hit or miss for me, mostly hit, with several of her short stories ranking up there with my favorite Ted Chiang and Seanan McGuire stories. This may be her first novel(I think) and she normally does short stories so quality seems to dip a little(or maybe my imagination failed me) but on the whole it's very good. 4 1/2 stars.It's a prequel/rebelling on one of her stories I enjoyed, in some ways reminiscent of Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" or League of Extrodinary gentlemen. The bits Theodora Goss is hit or miss for me, mostly hit, with several of her short stories ranking up there with my favorite Ted Chiang and Seanan McGuire stories. This may be her first novel(I think) and she normally does short stories so quality seems to dip a little(or maybe my imagination failed me) but on the whole it's very good. 4 1/2 stars.It's a prequel/rebelling on one of her stories I enjoyed, in some ways reminiscent of Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" or League of Extrodinary gentlemen. The bits that left me cold were reminded me of that awful "Van Helsing" movie, but with more feminism/female characters. You can get the beginnings of the plot from the blurb. It wraps up nicely, but still sets up a sequel which I am eagerly awaiting.
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  • Sam Franks
    June 26, 2017
    Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and I have been taught by Theodora Goss in the past. But that said, review!I thought I would like this book. Theodora Goss writes beautifully; her poems and short stories have long enchanted me. The premise, too, was promising. What I didn't expect was to be swept away. The story tells of the daughters of Victorian characters you may know -- Jekyll and Frankenstein, for some -- and brushes against familiar favorites like Sherlock Holmes. Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and I have been taught by Theodora Goss in the past. But that said, review!I thought I would like this book. Theodora Goss writes beautifully; her poems and short stories have long enchanted me. The premise, too, was promising. What I didn't expect was to be swept away. The story tells of the daughters of Victorian characters you may know -- Jekyll and Frankenstein, for some -- and brushes against familiar favorites like Sherlock Holmes. It's set with breathtaking detail in England's gritty, 19th century streets but told in a lively and enthusiastic manner, with all the right sentiments of young, powerful women. One of my favorite books of the year and thoroughly recommended for anyone who loves Austen or the Bronte sisters.
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  • Ann
    May 22, 2017
    What an absolutely unique story line. Ms Goss has taken the daughter's of literature's mad scientists and joined them into a search for truth and justice. Starting with Mary Jekyll and moving on to Mr. Hyde's daughter Diane and Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. The ladies team up with Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson to expose the Societe des Alchimistes. All mad men who have used genetics to turn animals into humans and humans into animals. I loved the adventure and What an absolutely unique story line. Ms Goss has taken the daughter's of literature's mad scientists and joined them into a search for truth and justice. Starting with Mary Jekyll and moving on to Mr. Hyde's daughter Diane and Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. The ladies team up with Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson to expose the Societe des Alchimistes. All mad men who have used genetics to turn animals into humans and humans into animals. I loved the adventure and the Victorian London settings. The story was "written" by Mary Jekyll with lots of comments thrown in by the various other characters. I'll be looking for Ms. Goss's previous books. I really enjoyed this book.
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  • Liz
    June 25, 2017
    Loved this book! So many things about it were just wonderful. The story itself is a fun imagination of intertwining characters from Sherlock Holmes, Victor Frankenstein, and Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It takes the storylines from each of them and spins a wonderful new tale. I loved the characters and the development of them as well as the ability of the author to keep the story moving forward with getting bogged down into each one's history. The author adds little asides throughout the story from v Loved this book! So many things about it were just wonderful. The story itself is a fun imagination of intertwining characters from Sherlock Holmes, Victor Frankenstein, and Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It takes the storylines from each of them and spins a wonderful new tale. I loved the characters and the development of them as well as the ability of the author to keep the story moving forward with getting bogged down into each one's history. The author adds little asides throughout the story from various characters point of views in their own voice which made me feel as if the story was written with all the characters huddled around the typewriter as it was written. Loved it. So glad that there will be a sequel, can't wait to read it. Also think this could be adapted into a wonderful movie.
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  • Melanie
    June 27, 2017
    This book is extremely detailed and a little slow going in places, but it does something that I love that more than makes up for it: it brings together many different literary characters and tells a story. Jeckyll, Hyde, Rappaccini, Moreau, Frankenstein, Holmes, and Watson (among others I'm sure I missed) are thrust into the mystery not only of the Whitechapel murders, but a mysterious Société des Alchemistes that somehow involves them all. It's an extremely interesting story...I'm just hoping t This book is extremely detailed and a little slow going in places, but it does something that I love that more than makes up for it: it brings together many different literary characters and tells a story. Jeckyll, Hyde, Rappaccini, Moreau, Frankenstein, Holmes, and Watson (among others I'm sure I missed) are thrust into the mystery not only of the Whitechapel murders, but a mysterious Société des Alchemistes that somehow involves them all. It's an extremely interesting story...I'm just hoping there's more on the way.
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  • Theresa
    June 30, 2017
    I thought this was an enjoyable read. Drawing together characters on the fringes of other horror/fantasy/science fiction stories, Theodora Goss spins her own unique tale about their lives after the other stories end. It reads easily, although I found myself doing a little research to refresh my memory of Jekyll and Hyde, Dr. Moreau, and the rest. It certainly sounds as if a second book is in the works, and I look forward to reading that one, as well.
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