Book Review- The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Monsters, mysteries and mayhem! Right out of a penny dreadful, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a fun, enjoyable romp through the Victorian classics with a feminist twist. Take Dr Jekyll’s daughter, Mr Hyde’s daughter, Frankenstein’s daughter, a poisoner’s daughter, and an intelligent cat woman, put them all together and you get The Athena Club.

The girls are the crime fighting detective agency you never knew you needed. The story begins with Mary Jekyll, newly orphaned, almost broke and looking for answers in her mother’s account books. What follows is a Victorian adventure that has all of the strong female characters you could ask for – each with their own distinct personalities. At the same time, the story never feels like it escapes it’s Victorian era.

Goss manages to make the girls likeable and capable without making them 21st century women, they are all products of their environment. The novel has the era down right from the start, inserting tiny, but important details, down to the table ware and Mary’s walking suit.

The girls are strong, intelligent, street smart, scientific, kind and clever. They are exactly the kind of heroines that you want to read about foiling crimes and saving lives.

Throw in a working relationship with Sherlock and Watson, and the whole Victorian era of literature are thrown into a single story in a very enjoyable way.

Goss takes inspiration from The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr Moreau, Rappacini’s Daughter and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

She takes female characters who would have been at the background of those stories – if they were there at all – and brings them firmly into the foreground, giving them independence and agency.

Although he story spends a little too long introducing each of the characters and their commentary can be interrupting at times, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s daughter is the monster story you never knew you needed.

You’ll fall in love with each of the characters, with Mary, Diana, Beatrice, Catherine and Justine.

The girls are strong, intelligent, street smart, scientific, kind, and clever.

They are exactly the kind of heroines that you want to read about foiling crimes and saving lives.

The little hints about their future adventures will have you gasping at the mouth for the next novel in the series. If you always wished that you could be the mad scientist – then The Strange Case of the Alchemists’s Daughter is for you.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is published by Quirk Books and available in all good bookshops.

Author: Méabh McDonnell

As editor of Cinders magazine books, television, comic books and the lack of representation for women in movies that I otherwise enjoy are most of what I talk about. Aside from reading I write, mostly about driving from Galway to Ennis. You can find more of my musings over on Twitter @redridinghood19. Check out Cinders magazine at www.cindersmagazine.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s