The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

by Theodora Goss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely adored this book. It had just the right amount of mystery, humor, drama, and quirk. The gimmick that makes the book what it is was handled in an interesting and fun way. I enjoyed seeing various 19th-century novel monsters accumulate with a twist that kept things feeling new, even if you have read all of the various source materials.

What really tips the scales in this book is the characters. Everyone is so fantastically written and unique. The dynamics are just perfect between everyone. The cast feels somewhat large, but this never gets confusing because everyone has their own voice and purpose through the narrative.

All My Thoughts

May contain spoilers.

This was such a fantastic book. It had one of my favorite aspects of any book: a great cast of characters. It was these characters that really made the book what it is. Each character in the novel is pulled from various 19th-century novels, either characters directly from these sources, or created using a very convincing explanation of how they could be from these sources. This main cast of characters is all strong and interesting women, each with a unique personality and voice in the narrative.

Mary Jekyll, daughter of yes that Dr. Jekyll, is who we could consider the main character of the novel as well as the central point everyone gravitates to. The other main characters that we see are Beatrice Rappaccini, Justine Frankenstein, Catherin Moreau, and the half-sister Mary never knew she had, Diana Hyde. Yes, that Hyde. I love every one of these women and miss each one when they are not in a scene.

The narrative direction the author took with this book was unique and added further depth to our understanding of the character development. It is sort of a story within a story. We are reading the book that the character Catherin is writing about the cast. So as we read, there are small interruptions of this character or that making a comment about an event, such as to say a particular thought is NOT what they were thinking at the time or often to say that Catherinthinks very highly of herself since she is the one recounting their adventure. I admit this was a little bit jarring at first because I did not know this was how the story was handled. It is important to note that in the audio format it isn’t clearly distinguished when it’s Catherin’s novel and when the girls are making comments about it. After the first couple of times it happened my brain was able to register quickly when that was happening so this was only a minor problem for me very briefly. It does help that these interruptions are purely dialog and no real action happening.

This book, the first of a trilogy, introduces us to an overarching plot that doesn’t find a conclusion at the end. The first learn about a secret scientific organization that they come to find out is a big part of why they exist in the first place. Their family members or creators are all a part of it in some form or fashion. Obviously, they have a more immediate issue to address, Frankenstein’s creation Adam, causing havoc because he wants Justine back, but a Justine that will obey him. The author does such a fantastic job of giving her “monster” heroines so much depth of emotion. This presentation of monstrous people and human monsters was done so well and is really the overall focus and theme that is present throughout the whole narrative. You get to know each of the members of the Athena Club (the group the monster women form by the end of the novel) and you can’t help but feel that emotional attachment to each.

The audiobook experience of this book was amazing as well. The narrator, Kate Reading, was fantastic. She does such a variety of voices and accents that it is extremely easy to know who is speaking even without it being directly pointed out. Highly recommend consuming the book this way.


This was a fantastic adventure and sets up a series that just continues to build upon itself. An extremely character-driven story that keeps you hooked with good drama and fun humor.

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