I just stayed up entirely too late reading a delightful new novel by Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. Â It’s a lovely fantasy tale that begins with Mary Jekyll, the daughter of the famous Jekyll from the story of Jekyll and Hyde. Â As Mary’s story progresses, she is confronted with a mystery, meets new friends and famous and beloved allies, and has grand adventures. Â I don’t want to say too much about the story itself because I was so often delighted when new characters showed up, and I think you all deserve to have that unspoiled experience.
The book worked for me in three ways:
- The line by line writing and story is executed flawlessly. Â I’m not surprised as I’ve read some of Dora’s short work and poetry, and would stop and find it all if I had time. Â She is a precise writer who evokes magical worlds through high craft.
- Dora uses some very unconventional tools to get across the delightful people in the book – her characters occasionally interrupt the flow of the narrative in delightful ways. Â I love experiments, and I found this to be a brave and effective way of doing some experimental writing in a novel.
- This book works as a pure adventure. Â It is also a subtle commentary on the power of women, and addresses gender, fears, and female monsters. As I read, I felt that this was deliberate – it was meant to be part of the book. Â But it never interfered.
I highly recommend The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, and I think everyone should go get a copy and read it!