Recent Reading: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

In spite of having discovered the wealth of video programming on Amazon Prime, with so many wonderful documentaries, I’ve been in a heavy reading mode lately, which is wonderful.

I think one of my recent reads is something fans of Rebel Mechanics would enjoy: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. It’s not actually “steampunk” but is set in the Victorian era and does get into retrofuturistic science, and it does involve brainy and plucky young women trying to find their place in the world and dealing with a secret society, so there’s a lot of thematic crossover.

Basically, it’s about the daughter of Dr. Jekyll, who ends up working on a case with Sherlock Holmes, and the case brings her in contact with some of the female “monsters” created by the various 19th century literary mad scientists. We’ve got the Bride of Frankenstein and one of Dr. Moreau’s beast people, for instance. All these women team up to track down a mysterious society of alchemists. I get the sense that this is an origin story and that there will be further adventures of our intrepid band of heroines. (Yep, a quick Amazon search reveals that book 2 will be out in July.)

This is such a fun book. There’s some deeper stuff delving into the idea of what a monster is and the role of men in turning women into monsters (as well as their choices in using women as their experimental subjects), but it’s mostly a romp of an adventure story, as our heroines get in and out of a lot of scrapes and use their various “monstrous” abilities to deal with the danger. There’s a bit of a metafictional aspect to it, as the book is written as though it’s a work in progress being written by one of the characters, with interjections by the other characters along the way when they disagree with the way the narrator is portraying things. (That’s a fairly accurate look inside the brain of a writer, when the characters start talking back.)

I’d read most of the books being referenced, but now I need to go back and read some of the others, just so I can be certain of getting all the references and jokes.

So, if you like things like Rebel Mechanics or Victorian adventure fiction, in general, or smart women with superpowers, this is one to look for.

Comments are closed.