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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

Narrated by: Kate Reading
Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)
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Summary

Based on some of literature's horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders - and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents' deaths, 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.

©2017 Theodora Goss (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable

A clever conceit done really well. The author has built a Victorian London populated by monsters who aren't and men who are. But she doesn't disappear into her own cleverness and lose track of the story, unlike some other people who have done similar things (yes Kim Newman I'm looking at you). The story rips along quite well, but we get some good background and insight into the characters too.

The only point to note, especially apparent in Audio book form, is the jumping between 'now' and the story. It's a bit jarring at first but after a while becomes part of the flow and actually a fun way to tell a story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great!

A Marvellous mashup of several classic novels that sets them in the same universe but from the perspective of Dr Jekyl’s daughter (Mary) and the retinue of other woman she picks up as the plot rattles along. Really enjoyed it.

Narration was good. The interjections from the characters that interrupt the story can be annoying at times (I suspect they work better in the paper version) but flesh out the characters.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved every minute

such a interesting combination of classic stories mashed together. you will enjoy it I promise

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    5 out of 5 stars

A brilliant story not well suited to audiobook

Great story but the style has constant interruptions by secondary characters acting as narrators and narrative jumps between between the chatactera which is very off-putting in audiobook format. It might have worked better if this was an audio drama with multiple readers. The story works a lot better in written form.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Practically perfect in every way!

It took me a very long time to get to this book, and now I'm wishing I had done so sooner. The territory is familiar--take a bunch of classic monsters and put them all together--and I have enjoyed Kim Newman's all-singing-all-biting Anno Dracula series. This is a much more controlled and, dare I say it, considered essay in the subgenre, and I love it, I think, even more.

The author takes the stories of Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Doctor Moreau and Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (a story I knew of but have not as yet read), working strictly from the books with no reference to any film adaptations, and follows the careers of six women whose lives have been affected by those stories, how they meet and interact with one another and with the consequences of the (male) monsters' actions. The society in which they live feels real without being overpoweringly detailed. Holmes and Watson play supporting roles, and Drs Seward and van Helsing put in an appearance as well, though their particular adversary appears nowhere in this book. I'm hoping he is being kept back for the sequel, which I'll be getting to as soon as I can.

The main protagonist, Mary Jekyll, is easy to identify and sympathise with, being--so far--the most overtly "normal" of the six. My favourite character, though, I think, has to be the redoubtable (and was there ever a character for whom that word might more aptly have been coined?) Mrs Poole. As her life and the life of her employer spiral into bizarrerie, she takes it all in stride as any good Victorian housekeeper should, without at any time lowering by an inch her impeccable standards of decorum.

I was also charmed and delighted (though I see other reviewers were annoyed) by the interspersed editorial comments from the characters, looking over Catherine Moreau's shoulder as she writes down their adventures. I'm very fond of stories that play with the fourth wall, and this is a subtle and well-executed take on that device, and welcome light relief in a story that might otherwise have verged on the grim.

Some "Britpicking" might have been done--there are references to "sidewalks," "stoops" and other USianisms--but honestly, that is so tiny a niggle in the face of the overall excellence of the story that it really seems hardly worth mentioning.

The reading, by Kate Reading, is equally excellent, displaying the reader's vocal range to stunning effect.

As I said, I will be going after the sequel as soon as circumstances permit, and I hope (with due deference to the author's desire to do something different) that it will not be the last in the series. I strongly recommend this book.

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An enjoyable read!

This is an unusual and interesting premise. Utilising familiar characters from the genre cannon with a feminine twist and adding supporting roles for Holmes and Watson, this mystery was thoroughly enjoyable. I will certainly be buying the next in the series..

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  • Rachel
  • 07-07-17

Cute, erratic, sloppy but not without charm

What did you like best about The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter? What did you like least?

Strong female characters, love a good mystery.

What does Kate Reading bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She does a good job trying to make each character distinctive, but gets confused as occasionally swaps accents.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Possibly

Any additional comments?

I love the concept, but the narrative was a bit annoying. I didn't mind the idea of borrowing creatures from other stories and weaving them into this tale but the Sherlock Holmes character was so poorly represented.

If you are going to use beloved characters with well established personalities and NOT completely reinvent, then be true and respectful of the source.

62 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dubi
  • 26-04-18

Weird Science

Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde, daughters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, team up with daughters and creations of other mad scientists (like Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Moreau) and, with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, solve a series of Ripper-like murders. Theodora Goss's mash-up of Victorian horror literature is fun and thematically interesting -- until the last couple of hours, which drone on interminably toward no discernible end.

If you're a fan of the original source material -- Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, R.L. Stevenson's Jekyll & Hyde, H.G. Wells's Island of Dr. Moreau, Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter, and Conan Doyle's Holmes -- you will no doubt love this. If like me you've never read those books but are familiar enough with them from movies and other pop culture references, the great news is, now you never have to actually read them!

Some more good news: this modern treatment takes those very male-centric books (Mary Shelley's authorship notwithstanding) and turns them into a feminist manifesto. The daughters -- many considered monsters -- turn out to be smart, strong, independent women despite the ravages heaped upon them by the men who exploited them.

On the flip side is the casting of science as the villain. In a time when science denial is a serious hindrance to solving some of our more pressing problems, casting doubt on scientific inquiry is not the right message -- this particular group of scientists are wholly misguided and heinous, but the fear of science as a replacement for god is a debate that was settled long ago, we now need to be careful not to let science be devalued in the name of greed.

The ending here clearly augurs future entries in a series, which the author says will be a trilogy.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • sonia
  • 22-06-17

PLEASE TELL ME THIS WILL BE A SERIES!!!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter to be better than the print version?

I did not read it, only listened.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter?

Justine's story

Which character – as performed by Kate Reading – was your favorite?

Honestly, all. I really enjoyed how the characters were pre-identified verses, "she said or he said"

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

NO SPOILERS! The last few chapters, when the women realize how unique they all were, that each one had individual value to bring to the whole.

Any additional comments?

THIS BETTER BE A SERIES! Even though most characters are female, men will enjoy this novel very much. SPOILER ALERT! No sex, no mushy love story just a fun adventure, not even so much as just from a woman's POV. It was a well told story. It really isn't light and breezy, you have to pay attention but not a hard difficult story to follow either. I thought it was a interesting and fun new twist to several classics.

36 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • stephen
  • 05-11-17

Clever use of Public Domain characters

Kate Reading is as professional as they come and Theodora Goss has created an interesting tale using the female characters from Great Gothic novels from the 19th century. It is a mystery that involves Holmes & Watson with the help of the daughters of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , along with others. Simply brilliant

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jessica Johnson
  • 27-07-17

lovely unsuspenseful mystery

interesting style of writing - the heroines commenting on the story throughout was funny and relaxing

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jujubntx
  • 14-08-17

The Strange Case of The Strange Case

Unfortunately I struggled to finish this novel. I purchased the audio book based upon the interestin premise and it started off decently enough . however as time went by it became apparent that the books pace slowed to a snail's pace and then finally towards the climax and lengthy denouement the book structure fell apart completely. The performance is decent but it was a stretch for the male voices. i just didn't care that much for any of the characters. Won't be reading the sequels

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa Halverson
  • 21-05-18

Probably better as a physical book

I liked this concept and Kate Reading did a great job with all the voices but I had a hard time following the various narrators in the novel. It was a lot going on and if you aren’t paying rapt attention, you miss who is talking very easily. The story within a story got a bit muddled as well, especially in the beginning. Might be easier going if you read it rather than listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joel Langenfeld
  • 12-07-17

Slowly, her breathing slowed...

That phrase pretty much sums up the entire book.

This could a pleasant eight hours of Audible. Unfortunately, it will require 13 1/2 hours of your time to plow through. The author executed this lexical legerdemain by slipping in looonng expository narratives from several perspectives, relieved only by the various narrators arguing about the presentation of those tedious narratives.

Kate Reading was spot on with her narration, but unfortunately her considerable talents could not elevate this plodding prose.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jim N
  • 22-07-17

A Bit of a Mess

I had high hopes for this novel, a mashup of well-known literary characters drawn from the works of Wells, Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Shelley, etc. It's engaging for a while, despite an initially annoying fictional device in which various characters continually interrupt the character writing the novel. Unfortunately, the story meanders, reaches it's disappointing climax far too early and then the listener is left with hours of denouement and set-up for what will clearly be the next book in the series. The direction of that book is even telegraphed early so the resulting reveal fails to entice.

I don't want to sound too harsh. The narration is excellent. Kate Reading does a remarkable job of juggling characters and giving each a distinctive, easily recognizable voice. There are some interesting ideas and considerations about the literary creations Goss is using in her story. It's the plotting and narrative structure that, ultimately, just don't work.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • 07-12-17

Doesn't make a good audiobook

This is a "story within a story" novel where the characters are writing the book you're reading. As a consequence, they'd frequently interrupt the story to have little side discussions about the book and at times it could be very confusing as an audiobook because you couldn't tell if the dialogue was happening in the story or outside.

The story itself was only alright. Good concept, but very anticlimactic and predictable.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful