The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, a review (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1)

The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss is the first book in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club trilogy, following the unknown products of Victorian era mad scientists as they solve crimes. This was recommended to me by a few people, with the lovely Kari gifting me it (thank you so much!)

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

This is the perfect autumn/spooky season read, with our main character Mary being the daughter of Dr Jekyll, an infamous scientist. There are so many characters from Victorian stories here, with of course The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as well as Sherlock Holmes, Rappaccini’s Daughter, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and Frankenstein. I’ve not read Rappaccini’s Daughter or The Island of Doctor Moreau yet but they’re firmly on my tbr after having read this book!

Theodora Goss is clearly well versed in these books (or at least, the ones I’ve read) because she manipulates their aspects so well to create this novel. This is not a literary book, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun YA fantasy mystery novel, but the elements she uses are absolutely fantastic. I also love how Goss integrates more modern thinking into the book. There is both atheism and strong religious faith, a character who was raised by prostitutes and trusts them more than she’ll ever trust a man, talks of votes for women, and a strong feeling that these women are capable and able to stand on their own.

I also love the banter and the way that this book is written, with interjections throughout the narrative from the girls as they disagree or comment on what is being written. It adds another dimension to the storytelling and also adds some extra intrigue to picking up the next book, as they’re clearly discussing this from a future time. The girls are all so different and yet gel together to make a fantastic group.

Additionally, the mystery in this book is fun and done well! We’re given plenty of little clues and puzzle pieces, but both the reader and the girls don’t quite know enough until the end to make the full picture. But not all of the lose ends are tied up, leading nicely into the rest of the series and leaving me impatient for more!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8 and Enjoyment: 8 giving an 8.14 average and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: abandonment, animal cruelty, child abuse, death of parent, confinement, misogyny, murder, mutation of the human body, torture.

This is such a fun book and I’m excited to delve into the rest of the trilogy! Is this something you would pick up? I’ve not read this sort of retelling in a while and it was a lot of fun!

October TBR 🎃

It’s officially spooky season!!! It’s also Gothtober season (hosted by the amazing Hannah), and it’s my birthday month!! (13th October, just saying). So this is always a super busy and hectic month for me… at least I’m not moving, starting a new job, and doing a video every single day like last year!! 🤣

I also wanted to try and theme my tbr around Kari this month, with her birthday being on the 15th October and with us adoring the same books. It seemed appropriate and also like it would set me up for some fantastic reads! Matching up “Kari reads” along with the Gothtober prompts wasn’t exactly easy, but I think I’ve done an okay job 😂

I’m also not doing the tbr jar this month, instead I’ve got a huge stack of “Kari reads” that I’ll delve into if I finish up my main tbr.

To get my prompts for Gothtober I had to play a game 😈 no really, Hannah’s brother Ciaran made a game for us to generate different prompt lists for everyone! I just ran it one time and decided to make the the prompts work damn it!

The first prompt is a gothic mood read and of course that could just be a random book I pick up, but I’m going to match The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean to this prompt. Because I’m always in the mood for dark, book themed reads! This is also the September Illumicrate book, so I’ve gotta squeeze it in somewhere.

Next is a book that completes you and for this I’m going with Foundation by Mercedes Lackey. This was gifted to me by my uncle but it’s also an author that Kari absolutely adores, and given it’s a YA high fantasy (the type of book we match most on) it’s a pretty sure bet I’m gunna love this one!

A beautiful book could be so many that are on my shelves, but I’m putting my Goldsboro GSFF book in here and that’s Mindwalker by Kate Dylan with it’s stunning bright pink cover with hexagons and a woman holding a gun? Gimme. All I know about this one is it’s a sci-fi soooooo, I’m excited!

Then for the prompts that everyone gets, because of course. These are books by a BIPOC/BAME author, an LGBTQ+ book, and a book with disability representation. I love to try and combine these all into one, and I actually found out (through the Gothtober twitter account) that The Book Eaters would count for this. But instead I’m going to be reading Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon because I adore everything I’ve read by them and I need an excuse to pick this up!

For a book that I forgot I had I’m going with Dracula by Bram Stoker, because how the hell did I forget about this classic? And it’s SO gothic that it’s just the absolute perfect choice rn. Give me bats! 🦇

The next prompt is a murder mystery read and that fits in fantastically well with How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie which Hannah challenged me to read this October. All about a woman who’s jailed for murder, and she is a murderer, but she didn’t do this one and she’ll be damned if she goes down for someone elses crime!

A heavy book could have a few meanings, but I’m going with a big book and that’s The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I’m buddy reading this with Kari throughout October, and whilst I don’t think it actually is, it gives me dark academia vibes so I’m here for it being an October read.

My final prompt is a book that features a training montage and this is the perfect excuse to pick up The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This has been sat on my tbr for too damn long and I’m excited to pick it up!

Then I’ve only (not including the Kari books) got one book left on my tbr, which isn’t linked to Gothtober, and that’s The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, an Earth Science non-fiction. Because it’s my birthday month and I wanna read it 😇.

I’m hoping that this TBR is pretty manageable, and even slightly too easy, cause I want to get to some more of the Kari stack! But October is also going to be a really busy month for me. Lots of live streams, catching up with family, and even a trip to London for my birthday! (my amazing partner got us tickets for the Eng vs USA football game ⚽). I’m also getting a new phone, finally. I’ve had mine since 2014…. 😶 and so I imagine I’m gunna be pretty glued to that. Let’s hope I can still squeeze the reading in!

What are you wanting to read in October? And are you joining in Gothtober? I hope so! Have a great month folks!

First Lines Friday! #30

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

Mr Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scant and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Wordsworth Classics) eBook : Stevenson, Robert  Louis: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson

Another classic that’s been on my tbr shelves since around 2016. I’m hoping to finally pick this one up in October! I feel like that’s an appropriately spooky month to read this in 👻 I’ll also hopefully be reading the other stories in this wee collection as they’re only short. Have you read this before? Did you like it? Let me know!!