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Strange Cases in Victorian London

The book release I had been most looking forward to this summer was The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, by Theodora Goss. I was not disappointed!  I'm a fan of her work and so did not read any previews about the title.  Unsure of what to expect plot-wise, other than a historical novel set in London, I was delighted to find a loveable cast of characters plucked from a variety of classic sci-fi/horror novels and expertly woven into a story all their own. This narrative within a narrative is hard to pin down, genre wise. Is it YA?  Fantasy? Mystery?  Victorian Gothic Adventure?

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We meet the main character, Mary Jekyll as she attends the funeral of her mother.  She reads like a woman straight out of a Jane Austen novel; a gentlewoman fallen on hard times and worrying about the household finances.  As she begins to settle her mother's affairs, she receives information that her father's murderer, Mr. Hyde, may be near.  And there happens to be a reward for information leading to his arrest.  Who could Mary Jekyl consult in Victorian London?  Enter none other than Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson.  Their presence, far from being overbearing, allows Mary access to places she would otherwise have been barred from. As Mary pursues the mystery of Hyde's whereabouts, she begins meeting (and rescuing) women in peril.  All the clues keep leading back to a mysterious secret society of (mad) scientists. Although this book stands alone, there is a sequel (The Athena Club) coming next summer...

I first encountered the character Beatrice Rappaccini in Goss's short story The Mad Scientist's Daughter, which is featured in John Joseph Adams' anthology, The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination (2013 TOR Books).  What Goss does with these classic characters is best illustrated by her response to this GoodReads question:



Main Characters and their Novel of Origin

Mary Jekyll & Diana Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Steveson

Cover The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Beatrice Rappaccini

Rappaccini's Daughter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Cover Rappaccini's Daughter

Catherine Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau
by H.G. Wells

Cover The Island of Dr. Moreau

Justine Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

Cover Frankenstein

Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson

The Sign of the Four
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



Victorian Era Literary Spinoffs

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
by Viola Carr


Poison's Kiss
by Breanna Shields


The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepherd


This Dark Endeavor
by Kenneth Oppel



The Case of the Missing Marquess
by Nancy Springer


Late Victorian Era Non-Fiction

Victorian London: the life of a city, 1840-1870
by Liza Picard

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London
by Judith Flanders

How to be Victorian
by Ruth Goodman

City of Dreadful Delight
by Judith Walkowitz

People of the Abyss
by Jack London