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Literature / European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman

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"At the end of the world, they encountered monsters..."

A 2018 Science Fiction, Massive Multiplayer Crossover, mystery novel written by Theodora Goss. It is the second entry in the Extraordinary Adventures Of The Athena Club, serving as a direct sequel to The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. ETMG is followed by The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl.

Mary Jekyllís life has been peaceful since she helped Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the Whitechapel Murders. Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Maryís sister Diana Hyde have settled into the Jekyll household in London, and although they sometimes quarrel, the members of the Athena Club get along as well as any five young women with very different personalities. At least they can always rely on Mrs. Poole.

But when Mary receives a telegram that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped, the Athena Club must travel to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rescue yet another young woman who has been subjected to horrific experimentation. Where is Lucinda, and what has Professor Van Helsing been doing to his daughter? Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, Catherine, and Justine reach her in time?

Racing against the clock to save Lucinda from certain doom, the Athena Club embarks on a madcap journey across Europe. From Paris to Vienna to Budapest, Mary and her friends must make new allies, face old enemies, and finally confront the fearsome, secretive Alchemical Society. Itís time for these monstrous gentlewomen to overcome the past and create their own destinies.

This book provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism:
  • Adaptational Villainy: In addition to Seward and Van Helsing, Arthur Holmwood, Quincy Morris and Jonathan Harker are willing to pay any cost to unlock the secrets of immortality.
  • Aerith and Bob: A variation. When asked where the rivers of blood in her dreams flowed, Lucinda says "from the garden of Gethsemanenote ...and also from my arms."
  • Anything but That!: After leaving the Maria-Teresa Krankenhaus, Diana refuses to eat Knoedel ever again, even if she were to be tortured.
  • Ascended Extra: Mina Murray, who was only mentioned a handful of times in SCAD, is far more important here.
  • The Atoner: Prendick, who is forced to work for Seward and Van Helsing, but gives Catherine their plans in Budapest.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Of a sibling variety. When Mary allows Lucinda, who is not yet in control of her impulses, to feed on her and Lucinda nearly loses control, Diana fends her off and tells Mary if Lucinda comes at her again, she'll kill her. In the commentary, Mary thinks it's the most affectionate thing Diana has ever done for her.
  • Bad Habits: Beatrice and Catherine disguise themselves as nuns on the train to Budapest.
  • Beast Man: Archibald.
  • Befriending the Enemy: At the end, Beatrice joins the Alchemical Society to help them form an ethics commission to try and prevent any more experimentation on young girls, since Ayesha does not unilaterally end experiments in biological transmutation. Beatrice is still ultimately loyal to the Athena Club.
  • Big Bad: Professor Van Helsing.
  • Broken Pedestal: After Mary learns that Mina being her governess was actually a cover for her spying on Doctor Jekyll, Mary is not quite able to trust Mina anymore. Mina insists her care for Mary is genuine, and she is nothing but helpful and caring for all the time she is on the page.
  • Brown Note: The whistle that incapacitates vampires.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The general meeting of Alchemical Society. Members come from all over Europe, and new delegations from Japan and Rhodesia (present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe) are welcomed into the society as the meeting begins.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front / Unusually Uninteresting Name: The Subcommittee for Bibliographic Citation Format, meant to oppose the Alchemical Society. Nobody would ask about what goes on at a meeting for the Subcommittee for Bibliographic Citation Format.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Irene Norton's secret room has pretty much anything you could ask for to deal with adversity, including poisons Beatrice had only seen in her garden.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Sunlight has no ill effects on those infected with vampirism.
  • Demoted to Extra: Holmes and/or Watson were in almost every scene in SCAD, getting almost as much page time as Beatrice, Catherine, and Justine. However in ETMG, the story focuses much more on the five main characters and Lucinda and other new supporting characters like Irene, Mina, Carmilla, Laura, and Vlad get the spotlight. Holmes and Watson are only a supporting presence in the early chapters and don't accompany the women on their European travels. Holmes is officially missing earlier than halfway into the book. Watson, after helping Beatrice and Catherine leave after the others, is also officially missing at the end.
    • Most of the women don't really want Holmes and Watson to interfere, anyway.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Irene's agents are this to Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars.
  • Dracula: After being hinted at in the first novel, Vlad makes his full appearance here as an ally of the Athena Club.
  • Dramatic Irony: Because of the Party Scattering, the reader is privy to loads of information that only one of the two groups has that the other doesn't.
  • Easily Forgiven: After it's revealed that Sasha was spying on Catherine for the Alchemical Society, she does little more than reprimand him. Justified, as he only did it because Lady Crowe manipulated him into doing it.
  • Escort Mission: Mary, Diana, and Justine have to get Lucinda to Budapest to show her as evidence to the Alchemical Society how damaging the experiments in biological transmutation are. Lucinda herself is unconscious for much of the time spent getting her to Budapest.
  • Fake Nationality: In-Universe. Both of these examples are performers in Lorenzo's Circus, but they are aware that the audience doesn't know or care where they're actually from. They're just playing a part.
    • Clarence convincingly plays the Zulu Prince, but he is actually a former lawyer from Boston.
    • Madam Zora acts as if she's from India, which her parents are, but she's actually from Hackney, in London's East End.
  • Fiery Cover-Up: Diana starts a fire in the Maria-Theresa Krankenhouse in Vienna cover up rescuing Lucinda and Mrs. Van Helsing. This is actually a Noodle Incident in SCAD's commentary.
  • Foreshadowing: For the next book. When Mina describes Seward, Morris, Van Helsing, and Holmwood's version of what happened to Lucy Westenra, she describes her anger as so intense that if she could summon lightning, she would. She would like to see their smoldering ashes. While Mina can't do such a thing, Queen Tera in the next book does basically that exact thing to Seward, Holmwood, Morris, Jonathan Harker, and a few others. (but not Van Helsing, he's in custody in Budapest.)
  • Forgettable Character: Invoked. When Joe Abernathy mentions the board of trustees at the Purfleet Asylum, he mentions a Dr. Raymond and a Lord Godalming, and can't remember the third one. The third one is revealed in SMMG to be Professor Moriarty. This is done because readers are unlikely to know Dr. Raymond or Lord Godalming off the top of their heads, but would definitely recognize Professor Moriarty, the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Friend on the Force: Joe Abernathy serves this role at the Purfleet Asylum.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire:
    • While they've both done terrible things in their past, in the story, Vlad and Carmilla are nothing but friendly and heroic characters.
    • Later, Lucinda fully becomes one herself.
  • Got Volunteered: Mary is made the official president of the Athena Club even though she doesn't want to do that.
    Diana: Mary doesn't want to do it!
  • Haunted Castle: The ruined Castle Karnstein in Styria, rented by Hyde and his henchmen. Mysterious cries happen in the castle that turn out to be from the dying Adam Frankenstein.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Diana spends a lot of time playing with Carmilla's wolfdogs and Dracula's puppies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Prendick sacrifices himself to defend Catherine from a vampire.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Irene is friends with Sigmund Freud, who helped her deal with her depression after the death of her husband. He aid the girls in infiltrating the insane asylum to rescue Lucinda.
    • Arminius Vámbéry, an ally of Seward and Van Helsing, was a real Hungarian traveler who documented the culture of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: Lucinda demonstrates her vampiric powers to the Alchemical Society by jumping up onto a dais, and then attacking the neck of one of the villainous scientists.
  • Lesbian Vampire: The Trope Maker Carmilla appears, now in a dedicated relationship with Laura Jennings.
  • Little Stowaway: Diana sneaks onto the ferry with Mary and Justine.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: In addition to the properties used in the previous novel, this story introduces characters from Carmilla and She, as well as a brief appearance by Doctor Raymond and references to Lord Ruthven. There's also a pair of siblings named Hannah and Greta, though their backstory has almost nothing to do with their namesakes.
  • Master of Unlocking: Diana is so good at this that she has a contest with one of Irene's girls and wins. Throughout all three books, Diana never once fails to pick a lock when she has the tools to do so.
  • The Medic: Beatrice's medical skills have continued to increase. She has made several healing concoctions of her own design and sells them to various hospitals in London.
  • The Mole:
    • Jimmy Buckets turns out to be one for the Alchemical Society in the Baker Street Irregulars.
    • Mina turns out to be one for the Subcommittee on Bibliographic Citation Format in the Jekyll Household, even though her friendship with Mary was genuine. This is also the case for Justine's friend William Pengelly, who met Justine during her time in solitude and kept other watchful eyes away from her.
    • Sasha the Dog Boy is one for the Alchemical Society in Lorenzo's Circus.
  • Multilingual Bonus: There are many phrases in the book spoken in French, German, Dutch, Italian, and Hungarian, though, admittedly context clues are helpful in most of these instances.
  • My Greatest Failure: Mina sees her inability to prevent the experimentation upon and death of Lucy Westenra as this. Dracula says the trope verbatim for the same incident.
  • Not Quite Dead: Adam Frankenstein survived the fire from the last book, though he is in a greatly weakened state now, and according to a letter sent by Hyde, died a few days after Mary, Diana, Justine, and Lucinda left Styria.
  • One-Hit Kill: In the battle against the vampires, Ayesha uses energic waves to cause several vampires to instantly die.
  • Party Scattering: For the majority of the book, Mary, Justine, and Diana are in one group going ahead while Catherine and Beatrice are catching up to them. The groups don't meet back up until well into the second half of the book.
  • The Power of Blood: Seward and Van Helsing want to use vampiric blood to create immortal and invulnerable super soldiers, and allow themselves and their contemporaries to live forever by curing diseases. Hyde and Adam think that Lucinda's blood is able to help Adam survive, though hers can't because Lucinda hadn't completed her transformation. Vlad and Carmilla's blood is what allows Lucinda to complete her transformation.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • In addition to the century old Justine, the story includes the two hundred year old Carmilla and the four hundred year old Vlad.
    • Ayesha claims to have been a priestess of Isis in Ancient Egypt, making her thousands of years old. Vlad admits he believes her. This is proven when we hear Ayesha's story in SMMG.
  • Rejected Apology: The dying Adam tried to have Justine forgive him for what he did in the last book. Justine does not forgive him, but she agrees to pray with him, believing God will forgive him. She later expresses her guilt about not forgiving him to Mary, though Mary tells her she did the right thing.
  • Rescue Arc: The primary goal of the Athena Club in ETMG is to save Lucinda from her captors, and then from succumbing to the madness that usually comes with being a vampire.
  • The Reveal:
    • Mary herself is the result of an experiment, as Dr. Jekyll was under the effects of a potion that purged him off all his negative qualities when he conceived her.
    • Mina is an agent of the Subcommittee for Bibliographic Citation Format, a branch of the Royal Society dedicated to opposing the Alchemical Society. Her serving as Mary's governess was cover for her spying on Dr. Jekyll, though Mina insists her friendship with Mary was real.
    • Madame Corbeau and Frau Krahe, elderly women that the Athena Club encounters at different points in their journeys, both turn out to have been Lady Crowe, an agent of the Alchemical Society.
    • Nurse Adams was also an agent of the Alchemical Society named Frau Gottlieb, who was sent by Ayesha to spy on Mary's family.
  • Romantic Vampire Boy: Dracula, who is in a romantic relationship with Mina.
  • Running Gag: In the Greek Chorus commentary, Diana adding new words to her vocabulary list - mostly so she can use them to insult people - and Beatrice or Justine going off on political or philosophical digressions.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The first book is set entirely in and around London, while in this one, with its apt title, Mary and the others travel to Paris, Vienna, Styria (part of southern present-day Austria), and Budapest.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • At the end we see that Alice has been kidnapped by Professor Moriarty, who plans on using her powers to make Helen Raymond the Queen of England.
    • Both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are noted as missing at the end of the book.
    • While this isn't mentioned in the last chapter, Dr. Seward is still at large, having escaped the fight in Budapest. He is revealed to be involved in Moriarty's plot in SMMG.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Lucinda ends up joining the Athena Club by the end of the story.
  • Shout-Out: When vampires are brought up, Diana makes reference to Varney the Vampire.
    • Henrietta, the circus's poetry-reciting midget, performs under the stage name of "the Queen of Lilliput".
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Vampires in this setting occupy a strange middle ground of friendliness. The vast majority of vampires are bloodthirsty monsters due to a form of insanity caused by the disease. Those rare few who prove immune to this madness are shown to be friendly.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Prendick sacrificing himself to defend Catherine, even though Catherine is a cat-human who is completely capable of defending herself. Catherine views Prendick's sacrifice this way.
  • Uplifted Animal: Catherine and Alice free the orangutan-man from captivity, bring him home, and Mrs. Poole trains him as a footman. He tells them his name is Archibald, apparently remembering it from when he was a menagerie ape.
  • Vampires Are Rich: While this isn't inherent to vampires, all the ones who have retained their sanity are people of means.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: While vampires do not have a weakness to garlic, Carmilla notes that she hates the taste of it.
  • Vampiric Draining: Vampires require blood to survive and are incapable of consuming any other form of food.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Vampires can live off any kind of blood, it's only the insanity that tends to come with the disease that leads to them targeting humans. Those that retain their sanity are shown happily living off chicken and cow blood.
  • The Virus: Vampirism is explicitly described as a virus, with all but a incredibly small minority becoming homicidally insane after being infected.
  • Voluntary Vampire Victim:
    • Various people willingly let Lucinda feed on them over the course of the story to keep her from starving.
    • Diana gives Lucinda's mother some of her blood to give her the strength to escape the mental hospital.
    • In the past, Mina gave Dracula some of her blood to help him recover after he was stabbed by Quincy Morris.
  • Why Won't You Die?: When Mary, Diana, Irene, Justine, and the Van Helsing women are fighting the force of vampires, they find themselves incapable of killing them. Irene says this almost verbatim.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Vampirism is described to strengthen the body but weaken the mind. Only Vlad, Carmilla, and later, Lucinda retain their sanity.
    • For most of the book, Lucinda is not coherent, either, and it's only through being cared for by Vlad, Carmilla, Laura, and Mina that she is able to stay sane.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Dracula and Carmilla are very dismissive of the traditional vampire weaknesses, saying they are nothing but silly superstitions.