Monday, October 05, 2020

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss


The first thing you need to know about The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is how much fun reading it is – especially if you grew up on books like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. Frankenstein was published in 1818, so Shelley may have been a little ahead of her time, but there is no doubt that Victorian society was fascinated by books like hers and the other two mentioned (published in 1886 and 1896, respectively). 

Two hundred years after the first appearance of Frankenstein’s monster, Theodora Goss has written a mashup novel that includes these three mad scientists and others like them. The men have formed a secret society, and they continue to experiment on living creatures (and dead ones) to see just what new kind of being they can create. Now, it seems that no one can stop them but their own daughters, most of whom themselves have been drastically altered by their own fathers into something no human was ever intended to be – oh, and Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Let’s not forget those two. 

Theodora Goss
Other than Holmes and Watson, the main characters of the novel are Mary Jekyll, her sister Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. One of them has a breath so poisonous that it kills anything that comes too close, one is a cross between a panther and a human, one has been reanimated and physically enhanced after having been hanged to death, one is a rebellious teen, and the other matches wits with Mr. Holmes with relative ease. At first, it is sheer necessity that forces the women team up in order to fight those who want so badly to return them to their fathers’ laboratories. But soon enough, something funny begins to happen: the women become a family of sisters more than capable of taking care of themselves. So that’s what they do. 

Kate Reading
The audiobook version of The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is read by Kate Reading (is that the perfect name for an audiobook narrator, or what?). Reading is a veteran of numerous audiobooks in the fantasy genre, such as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, so she is probably already familiar to many fantasy fans. Her skill of using multiple accents and voice-variations to individualize so many main characters is exceptional, and adds to the fun. 

Bottom Line: Readers looking to escape the horrors of 2020 for a few hours will not go wrong by choosing Theodora Goss’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter as a temporary diversion.

10 comments:

  1. It took a while to get used to the format of interruptions when I read the first one, but then I simply enjoyed the heck out of this one!

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  2. I found those "real time" interruptions to be a little weird at first, but eventually found myself looking forward to them. Those short conversations exposed more about the personality of the characters than anything else, really.

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  3. So pleased you liked this one, Sam. I agree that the 'real time' interruptions were odd and at first I wondered what they were, couldn't work out what was going on. When I twigged I thought, 'Oh, interesting' and very soon was looking forward to these little snippets. I shall get around to book 2 soon as it looks like they go travelling into Europe.

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    1. I really enjoyed it, Cath, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I'm not sure that I'll be reading others in the series...almost afraid they will let me down after how much fun I had with this one. Let us know what you think of others in the series if you read them.

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    1. Thanks, Nan. I think it was a one-of for me, a nice change of pace, but I'm reluctant to read any of the others in the series because those are bound to be a whole lot more routine...just mysteries being solved by "monsters."

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  5. I really loved the characters she created in this one. They were all so unique and fun. :)

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  6. They really were, Lark. All unique, but equally strong in so many ways..

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  7. This sounds like a fabulous and fun read. It's definitely one I'm interested in reading. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy this one. I'm not sure that I could ever read the whole series, but I do love the premise of this first one.

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