The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss (2017)
Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.
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, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
This story combines Jekyll and Hyde, Van Helsing, Moreau, Mary Shelley, Darwin, Jack the Ripper, Holmes and Watson. There are more, presumably from Victorian literature that I didn’t recognize.
It has the strange device of characters interjecting comments into the narrative. This interrupts the flow of the story and doesn’t add anything except to lighten the tone.
These isn’t much of a story. In fact it could have been more effective as a novelette. The characters seek to determine the perpetrator of a series of murders. This is solved about two-thirds of the way through, which results in a rather anti-climatic ending.
Large sections are devoted to backstory for the main characters. Unfortunately, having one of these after the main plot has ended makes it seem a bit tacked on.
The writing is good an kept me reading to the end. But the story isn’t very substantial and lacked a sense of adventure or excitement.