Goss wraps up her gaslamp fantasy adventure trilogy with a novel more political than personal. Mary Jekyll and her found family of the Athena Club return from their Continental deeds of derring-do, fatigued and anxious. Three of their circle who were left behind in London—Alice the housemaid, Dr. Watson, and Mr. Holmes—have gone missing, as have less-loved figures such as the reformatory director, Mrs. Raymond. Like Mary, the pace at the book’s outset is a bit sluggish and confused. A quarter of the book passes before it becomes clear that Alice and the others have been kidnapped as part of a nefarious plot that reaches the highest political strata of the British Empire. The “monstrous gentlewomen” of the Athena Club must rescue them and foil the scheme. Goss’s themes have moved well beyond the women’s deeply personal struggles with the patriarchy depicted in the first volume. By the time Professor Moriarty opines, “We must regulate our borders so that we no longer accept immigrants and refugees,” it’s apparent that the storytelling has shifted decisively away from character-driven exploration of identity. The characters remain delightful but develop relatively little. Topicality and tenacity, in the person of the self-effacing but determined Alice, bring the series satisfyingly home. Fans of the first two novels will find this one a solid capstone. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/30/2019 Release date: 10/01/2019 Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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