The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a delightful amalgamation of all the great gothic fiction stories of the 18th and 19th century–think The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and a bit of The Island of Doctor Moreau twisted up with a secret society doing questionable scientific experiments on young girls. A big dark and twisted, the author, Theodora Goss is able to keep the story from getting too creepy, too gross and too dark. Believe it or not there is quite a bit of humor in The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.
Following the adventures of Mary Jekyll (the Alchemist’s Daughter) and her band of merry misfits, Goss ties together some of the most well known fictional characters into a delightful romp through Victorian England in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, Mr. Holmes and his pal, Mr. Watson, even make an appearance to help Mary solve the disappearance of her father, Dr. Jekyll, and the murders reminiscent, for modern readers, anyway, of the Jack the Ripper Murders.
Too keep the story from getting too dark and heavy, Goss tells the story through the eyes of Mary and her friends after their adventure is complete. Goss allows them to break into the narrative, as if she was sitting in the room with them taking down the story, and give additional background about themselves and the story. She breaks the fourth wall in an effort to make the multitude of characters coming together less confusing as each character is able to have a distinct voice while Mary is the main character in the narrative bringing everyone together. At the beginning of the novel this storytelling technique was fun and witty, as to story continued, it became annoying almost like a commercial in the middle of your favorite show as some of the same arguments and discussions were had over and over again. The fourth wall break-ins took over the story at the end leaving an dissatisfying conclusion to the overall story.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is certainly a delightful romp through some of literature’s greatest hits. The unique storytelling approach of allowing the characters to break the fourth wall and share more of their thoughts and feelings helps in creating clear voices for the many characters Goss brings together, but she does lean on this device a bit much at the conclusion of the novel much to the disappointment of any reader looking for a satisfying conclusion.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a wonderful book for any reader who has contemplated what would happen if some of their favorite fictional characters gathered under one roof and on an adventure together.
A version of this review also appeared in The Gazette. Read it now.
The Quick Book Review
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's DaughterAuthor: Theodora Goss
Published on: June 20, 2017
Genres: young adult, mystery
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My Rating: Thumbs Up
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.