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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter / Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss

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, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.


***The Summer of Sherlock 2019*** 

I’m giving this book 4 stars simply because it combined so many of the Victorian things that often get written about (plus one I’d never heard of before). Obviously, from my Summer reading list, I’ve read a LOT of fiction involving Sherlock Holmes. He is very attractive to modern writers (and I’ve got some ideas why).

But this book throws in so many things! Firstly The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror. Then add The Island of Doctor MoreauFrankenstein, with a little bit of Draculathrown in for good measure. And there is the irresistible lure of Jack the Ripper! Plus I must now track down Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Rappaccini's Daughter, to learn more about the poisonous Beatrice.

So much fiction right now is based on Victorian London--it really holds appeal for the modern writer & reader. I wonder if it’s because we live in a time of uneasy change, just like the Victorian era. The industrial revolution was in full swing, just as we are seemingly immersed in the Internet age. The traditional role of women was being challenged just as the Me Too movement has shaken things up in our society. There were more & more people who actually wanted to help those less fortunate rather than maintain their low status, just as we are starting to realize that more & more people are wanting to come to more prosperous countries to start new lives. I think that these similarities draw us to updated Victorian tales. For me, it is especially the feminizing of popular Victorian literature that appeals. Inserting more independent women or women striving for independence.

Perhaps there is also some nostalgia for the times before DNA and forensics, back to when police had to have their wits about them in order to solve crimes. Our tendency to idealize the Good Old Days, which I don’t have to point out weren’t so good for everybody--particularly anyone who was not a wealthy white man. 

Still, I enjoyed this combination of so many literary works and I can certainly see it’s roots in the author’s dissertation. I’ll be interested to read the next book to see where she takes these characters that she has forged into the Athena Club (which is an excellent name, by the way).