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.
SciFi/Fantasy. June 20, 2017. Print version: 416 pages.