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Literature / The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl

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Finally, they realized they were the monsters.

A 2019 Science Fiction, Massive Multiplayer Crossover, mystery written by Theodora Goss. It is the third and final entry in the Extraordinary Adventures Of The Athena Club, following after The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter and European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman.

Life's always an adventure for the Athena Club... especially when one of their own has been kidnapped! After their thrilling European escapades rescuing Lucinda Van Helsing Mary Jekyll and her friends return home to discover that their friend and kitchen maid Alice has vanished - and so has their ally and employer Sherlock Holmes!

As they race to find Alice and bring her home to safety, they discover that Alice and Sherlock's kidnappings are only one small part of a plot that threatens Queen Victoria and the very future of the British Empire. Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, Catherine, and Justine save their friends - and save the empire?

This book provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Though Alice has been present since the first book, she only really joins with the rest of the Athena Club for the final battle and becomes a member in the trilogy's second to last scene.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Dorian Gray is a hedonist and ultimately responsible for Oscar Wilde's imprisonment, but he proves to be helpful to the Athena Club and develops a true friendship with Justine, making him a far cry from the murderer he was in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Margaret Trelawny in this version is a resentful and ambitious woman who will do whatever it takes to gain power.
    • Though she's more of a tragic villain, Helen Raymond applies as she was a member of the Athena Club in Theodora Goss's original novella, "The Mad Scientist's Daughter."
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The book starts with eight whole pages (fifteen minutes in the audio version) of Ayesha as a young woman in Ancient Egypt before Mary steps in and makes Catherine start with the main characters. Catherine had intended to go much longer before going to the rest of the Athena Club. She says it'll be less exciting to start with the Athena Club.
  • Asshole Victim: Moriarty, Dr. Raymond, Dr. Seward, Quincy Morris, Lord Godalming, Colonel Moran, and arguably Jonathan Harker; all of whom die horribly from Queen Tera's fire. More than one person says that they're glad to know that Dr. Seward and Dr. Raymond are dead.
  • Badass in Distress: Sherlock Holmes is kept locked up and/or drugged for the majority of the novel.
  • Badass Normal: Laura Jennings, despite having absolutely no special abilities of her own, shoots Queen Tera six times, incapacitating her long enough for Diana to cut her head off.
  • Big Bad: Queen Tera.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Mary and Sherlock; though Mary wishes that scene wasn't included.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Margaret Trelawny starts out genuinely nice to Alice, but she is extremely ruthless, not caring for who gets in her way, eventually trying to shoot Alice in the final battle. Helen takes the bullet for her.
  • Boring Return Journey: While SCAD subverted this, SMMG has Mary, Justine, and Diana (and later, Catherine, Beatrice, Lucinda, and Laura) return to England in short order because the important plot details are going on back in England.
  • Cornwall: Nearly the entire second volume takes place in Cornwall.
  • Death by Adaptation: Malcolm Ross died in the experiments done by Professor Trelawny.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Played straight with most of the supporting characters from ETMG, except for Laura.
    • Zig-Zagged with Holmes and Watson. Holmes and Watson were major characters in SCAD and hardly present during ETMG, but they are much more important once again.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Inverted. In the Battle of Kyllion Keep, 12 of the 13 participants (except Sherlock Holmes) are women.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: This is certainly how Moriarty is presented in the first half of the novel, and he certainly thinks of himself this way. Surprisingly subverted with Moriarty (given his reputation in other adaptations) halfway through the novel when he gets completely blindsided by Helen Raymond and Margaret Trelawny and incinerated by Queen Tera.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Helen dies in Alice's arms after being shot by Margaret Trelawny.
  • Disney Death: Justine is struck by Queen Tera in the British Museum, crumpling to the floor. Yet, she wakes up later in 11 Park Terrace and participates in the rest of the novel. Ayesha believes that anybody who wasn't as Made of Iron as Justine would have died from Queen Tera's lightning.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: It doesn't even seem to cross Helen Raymond's mind that Alice might not like to see Dr. Watson or the Baker Street boys shot at, her Athena Club friends menaced, or her country betrayed and overthrown. Likewise, she takes it for granted that Alice must've hated being a maid, a job the girl was quite content with.
  • First-Name Basis: Helen Raymond goes from being referred to in the text as "Mrs. Raymond" to "Helen" as she becomes more sympathetic, though this varies depending on whose perspective the story is being told from.
  • Flat Character: Unlike the rest of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Lord Godalming has next to no characterization at all.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Queen Victoria is the target of the plot by the villains and has a cameo at the end.
    • Bertha Benz is a friend of Carmilla and Laura and the one who designed thier motorcar. She is responsible for transporting Laura and Lucinda to England while she is touring to show off her newest model of motorcar.
  • Human Sacrifice: Required for the resurrection of Queen Tera. See Asshole Victim above.
  • Indy Ploy: Attempted by Mary of all people at the British Museum.
    Mary: Help me! I have to get to Sherlock!
    Justine: Mary, what are you going to do?
    Mary: I don't know! I'll think of something!
  • Instant Death Bullet: While most gunshot wounds in the series avert this, Helen Raymond drops dead the moment Margaret Trelawny shoots her.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Queen Tera is certainly the most terrifying villain the Athena Club ever faces, and she is introduced by horribly killing seven men at once.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: In terms of perspective. Unlike the first book, almost exclusively from Mary's perspective, and the second one, in which perspective was consistent within a chapter before switching, the perspective switches between characters far more frequently in SMMG than either of the other books, sometimes multiple times within a chapter. SMMG is also the only book to feature Lucinda's point of view (or her commenting on the narrative like the other Athena Club members have been doing the whole time), Alice's point of view (other than the last page of ETMG), and Ayesha's point of view.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Baker Street Boys try to rescue Alice from the well-guarded Soho house via a raid without waiting for information, and against Mary's orders. Nobody dies, but it does not go well.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: In addition to the intellectual properties used in the previous novels, this novel features two cameos by Dorian Gray and fully introduces characters from the fairly obscure The Great God Pan and The Jewel of Seven Stars. "Green Tea" by LeFanu is referenced near the end.
  • Medals for Everyone: In the final chapter, Queen Victoria herself visits the Athena Club and gives them all medals for service to the commonwealth.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: By the end of the novel, Mary is absolutely sick of Catherine's advertisements for her other books.
    Catherine: Every book is as hard to write as every other book. They are never easy.
    Mary: But I would think the process gets easier, over time?
    Catherine: You would think. But no, it doesn't. I've had just as hard a time writing this book as I had with the first one. Which is available for sale-
    Mary: Please. Just stop.
  • Off with Her Head! Diana defeats Queen Tera by cutting off her head. Subverted in that it actually takes Diana a long, gross, time to do this and she needs Laura's help to complete the job.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Irene, Mina, and Carmilla destroy a whole nest of the last of Van Helsing's vampires without any help from the rest of the cast or any relevance to the rest of the plot.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While Diana is probably the most irritable member of the Athena Club, she is genuinely hurt when she learns that the Athena Club has an inside joke policy of "Don't Wake Diana" which is a way to leave her out of things. Instead of cursing them out or being petulant, the Diana commenting on the story runs away from the room Catherine's writing from and is very upset with Catherine for a good chunk of the rest of the commentary.
  • Perception Filter: The most common use of mesmeric waves. Mrs. Raymond, Queen Tera, and Alice use their mesmeric powers to make people's appearances change, people invisible, or once, an entire castle invisible.
  • Place Worse Than Death: While Diana frequently complains about being left out of the Athena Club's adventures, she straight up refuses to ever return to the Magdalen Society even to investigate it.
  • Power Glows: Margaret Trelawny's scarab necklace glows bright red during the ritual at the British Museum and Helen Raymond's energic waves glow all sorts of colors during said ritual.
  • Put on a Bus: Hyde plays no part in SMMG, despite having played such a large part in the first two books. Instead, he's into Castle Frankenstein and he's still probably doing experiments.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Ayesha tells her story of how she was alive in the time of Ancient Egypt.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In the second half of the book, Helen Raymond becomes much more loving toward Alice/Lydia even than she was in the first volume, and Margaret Trelawny shoots Helen in the final battle when she comforts Alice instead of helping in the fight. She is still partially responsible for the girls who died in Whitechapel back in the first book, though.
  • Sketchy Successor: Sister Margaret (now known as Matron McTavish) is not nearly as competent at keeping the Magdalenes under control as Helen Raymond was. Subverted in that the Magdalenes are much happier than they were under Mrs. Raymond's thumb.
  • Smug Snake: Mary views Professor Moriarty as this.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Beatrice burns Professor Petronius with a kiss on the cheek when she and Alice rescue the mesmerists in Southwark. The kiss is described as longer than any she ever gave Clarence.
  • Villain Decay: The Alchemical Society was a Greater-Scope Villain in the first book. Van Helsing's faction was the main threat in the second book, while Ayesha and the establishment members of the Alchemical Society were more neutral. Since Van Helsing and his forces were defeated and Seward went on to the Order of the Golden Dawn, the Alchemical Society is not a threat at all in this book.
  • Wham Line:
    Margaret Trelawny: "Preistess of Isis, Queen of Egypt, accept our sacrifice!"
    • Moreso, Moriarty and Raymond's Oh, Crap! reactions to that line.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the battle of Kyllion Keep, Queen Tera's illusions make Beatrice, Justine, Catherine, and Lucinda think back on how they were created and the four of them internally ask whether they still deserve to exist.