cover image The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

Theodora Goss. Saga, $24.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6650-9

World Fantasy Award–winner Goss’s debut novel, richly reworking a short story (published in Strange Horizons in 2010) with influences as diverse as The Castle of Otranto and Mystery Science Theater 3000, brings her gothic-inflected fantasies roaring into the steampunk era. The main narrative is a standout pastiche of late Victorian mystery fiction, set in an alternate 1880s London and featuring Sherlock Holmes and a quintet of remarkable women: Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappacini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary Jekyll. Mary is penniless and hoping to remedy that by claiming the bounty on the fugitive Edward Hyde. She partners with Holmes to find him—though Holmes is somewhat distracted by a killer who’s targeting Whitechapel prostitutes—and in the process discovers the other “monstrous” daughters of infamous scientists. Goss easily surmounts the challenge of making such a male-defined premise belong to the women as shapers of their own destinies. A peppering of the daughters’ wry comments, first presented as brief marginalia, swiftly blossoms into dialogues and alternative takes on the tale—in some cases nearly 200 pages before the commenter herself enters the plot. This is a tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight. (June)