Wednesday, July 19, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: A Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is a very well done (and fun) example of a happily becoming more common genre - taking stories that have possible gender (or other) issues and subverting them.  In this case, the author has noted that she has found that women in various classic monster stories tend to make out quite poorly.  This book is one hell of a response to that notion - as it features all of the women in those classic monster stories teaming up for good.  The end result is a pretty fun origin story for this cast of characters, which I suspect is the beginning of a new series.

More after the Jump:

---------------------------------Plot Summary-----------------------
The Plot of the book is simple:  Mary Jekyll, the Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, is going through her recently deceased mother's effects, when she discovers that her mother has been supporting someone named "Hyde."  Believing at first this to mean her mother has been supporting her dead father's former murderous associate, Mr. Hyde, she investigates, only to find instead a girl, a Diana Hyde, claiming to be both Hyde's daughter and her sister, and a link to a secret scientific society her father was involved with.  This investigation will lead Mary, Diana, and her associates - including one Sherlock Holmes - to the discovery of other creations/daughters of various scientific monsters, a daughter of Frankenstein, of Moreau, and Rappaccini for instance.

Together the group, along with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, attempt to investigate not only their own origins as well as the mysterious Society, but also a group of murders, in which the killers are taking body parts of killed women.

The Book is told by one of the characters, with the other characters involved interjecting with her retelling and breaking the fourth wall on repeated occasions.  At first this is a little offputting, but the end result is really charming and helps really characterize all of the characters.

And the characters are truly great, all of the monster women are (Sherlock Holmes is pretty generic Sherlock Holmes, but he's not the important character here and the book makes sure we know it).  For a book involving characters from Monster Books, this is a lighthearted romp, not really dark at all despite various gruesome murders happening throughout.  The plot isn't particularly exciting when it strays from the discovery and origin stories of the main characters, but it serves its purpose: to introduce a cast of varied and fun women with their own distinct personalities and tendencies.

This may be the first in a series - the fourth wall breaking near the end suggests a second book is coming - as this is basically an origin story, but it works as well as a complete book just for displaying the characters.  I do hope it's a series though, as I'd really enjoy further adventures of the characters as they attempt to unravel what the Society is really doing - that mystery is not solved in this story which is a bit of a weakness since it's the only mystery that actually IS interesting (compared to the murder mystery).

Anyhow, well recommended for anyone who wants a fun book to read, even if it's not a must-read.  A great first novel in any event.

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