The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1) by Theodora Goss

‘Mary Jekyll stared down at her mother’s coffin.’

Now that her mother has died, Mary Jekyll faces ruin.  Her mother’s income was endowed, and now Mary is alone and penniless.  As Mary deals with her mother’s estate, she finds a reference to money being paid for the upkeep of ‘Hyde’.  Could this be a reference to Edward Hyde, once her father’s friend, and an escaped murderer?  If it is, there is a reward for information leading to his capture.  Mary immediately consults Sherlock Holmes.

And this begins a story which, while it starts slowly, becomes engrossing in a fantastical way. Mary’s search for Hyde leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana.  Diana becomes part of Mary’s household and the search continues.  At the same time, women are being murdered in Whitechapel …

‘I have paused to show you Mary staring into the mirror because this is a story about monsters.’

Mary’s search continues, and her household grows.  Meet Beatrice Rappacini, Catherine Moreau and Justine Frankenstein and learn their stories.  Together with Holmes and Watson, they will discover a secret society of scientists dedicated to creating monsters.  Can they be stopped?  And what about the women being murdered in Whitechapel?

‘What was the use of propriety when it kept one from getting things done?’

It took me a while to get into this story but once I did, I enjoyed the flow of it and the interactions between the various characters.  And their adventures continue: there are (at least) two more books in the series.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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