Hello everyone! It's been a while, right?
I'm getting into the fall spirit, and that means reading books that fall into that cozy, otherworldly, and sometimes even spooky feeling we get around this time. I've had this book for an extremely long time, and thanks to my book club finally got around to reading it. This is my spoiler free review of "The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter" by Theodora Goss.
*My reviews are generally structured in to four different parts; Synopsis, Pros, Cons, and Conclusion*
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.
One of the best things about this book is how it takes the classics in literature that we know and love, and twists them just enough to make them feel new and unheard of. "Frankenstein", and "The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" are stories that are almost universal in nature, whether or not people are familiar with the classics, there's been enough movies and retellings of these stories for most people to have a basic idea of what happens in them.
Goss's book takes these familiar elements, and gives them to a new cast of characters. Women who have been exposed, manipulated, or abused by the crazed ambition of these mad scientists, mad men who act "monstrous" in the name of science and discovery.
It just really makes the whole story that much more interesting, and gives us a greater sense of the world as imagined during these times in Victorian England, with monsters and magic and science beyond our expectations behind every corner.
Goss also has a very interesting storytelling style, where she breaks the 4th wall with her characters to explain details in the story. While I enjoyed it as the book went on, I have to say that it took some getting used to.
Like I said above, the "breaking the 4th wall" element of storytelling is definitely an interesting feature. I enjoyed it in terms of getting to know the characters a little more, getting more and more excited as certain people were introduced throughout the story, but I have to say that it was sometimes distracting from the story itself-at least at first.
The only other complaint I have with this book is that it feels very Pokemon. Gotta catch 'em all was in the back of my head as I read about the many different women who were somehow involved in the many literature classics throughout the book. And while I enjoyed reading their perspectives and hearing their stories, it almost felt crammed with how many were in just this first novel.
Overall, I'd give this book a 75%, C+ rating. It was interesting as the plot developed, I enjoyed meeting and reading about the characters, both familiar from other literature classics and the originals present in Goss' work. I loved seeing how having these women involved would change the stories we grew up with, and the murder-mystery element of it. However, personally it took a while for me to get interested in the action and invested in the main character.
I'd love to know what you thought of this book. It is the first in a series and I liked this first one enough to plan on reading the second and third that are currently out now. Are they better than the first? Worse? What should I look forward to by continuing this series? I'd love to know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading, and I'll talk to you soon.