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Literature / The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

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"Here be monsters."

A 2017 Science Fiction, Massive Multiplayer Crossover, mystery novel written by Theodora Goss as an expansion on her short story, "The Mad Scientist's Daughter." It is the first entry in the Extraordinary Adventures Of The Athena Club, with its sequels being European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman and The Sinister Mystery Of The Mesmerizing Girl.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ deaths, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.


When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

This book provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Alderney Shipping. Where Adam takes Justine to have her brain transplanted. It gets burnt down.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Dr. John Seward and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing are both in league with the Alchemical Society. Van Helsing is later revealed to be experimenting on his own daughter.
  • Agony of the Feet: Subverted. After a largely barefoot chase through London, Diana's feet are bleeding when she and Catherine return to 11 Park Terrace. However, Diana didn't even realize her feet were bleeding and barely reacts to her injuries.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Adam and the beast men abduct Beatrice and Justine from 11 Park Terrace while everyone else is away.
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  • Animal Eyes: The main give away that Catherine is not human is her yellow, cat-like eyes.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: What Mrs. Raymond has Hyde put Alice in.
  • Beast Man: Moreau's and Prendick's beast men, of whom Catherine is the most well made.
  • Big Bad: Adam Frankenstein.
  • Big Fancy House: 11 Park Terrace used to be this, before Dr. Jekyll and the family fortune were gone, and Mary had to sell most of its furniture to financially keep afloat. The house is still large with a courtyard, laboratory, and many rooms that used to entertain more upper-class guests.
  • Blessed with Suck: Despite their advantages, Beatrice's nature means that she can't physically touch people or even be in close proximity to them for long periods of time, leaving her feeling isolated.
  • Boring Return Journey: Subverted. It's a race to get Watson to the hospital before he bleeds out. Three whole chapters are based on returning home.
  • Brain Transplant: What Adam wants to do with Justine, so that she would have a mind that was willing to be with him.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Mary and Mrs. Poole frequently, although mostly lovingly, regard Diana as this and the staff of the Magdalen society and Inspector Lestrade certainly view Diana as this.
  • Cat Girl: Catherine, as Doctor Moreau's greatest creation, looks exactly like a normal person except for her cat-like eyes and her pointed teeth.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Sherlock mentions the boring case of The Avebury Menagerie, a man missing some animals, which at least one of which turns out to be one of the Beast-Men.
    • Marys suspects the face that Mrs. Jekyll saw in the window and that she murmured about until she died was Hyde, who wanted to see her one last time. This is confirmed in ETMG.
    • The offhand mentions of Mary's former governess Miss Murray, who at the end of the book turns out to be Mina Murray.
  • Death by Adaptation: Here it is Giovanni, not Beatrice, who died in Padua.
  • Dénouement: There are multiple chapters in the aftermath of the climax concerned with getting everyone home and learning Justine's story.
  • Dirty Coward: Prendick, who left Catherine to die on Moreau's island and has been bullied by Adam Frankenstein into creating beast men for him, and being an accomplice in both the Whitechapel murders, and the attempted removal of Justine's brain.
  • Dramatic Irony: It takes Mary roughly half the book to reach the conclusion that her father and Mr. Hyde are the same person, while to most readers this would be a case of It Was His Sled.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • With the help of Utterson and Mr. Poole, Hyde faked the death of Dr. Jekyll.
    • Justine had her death unknowingly faked for her, as Shelly's work claimed that Dr. Frankenstein destroyed her.
  • Fictional Document: Catherine has two series of novels, her Astarte books, and the ones about the Athena Club.
  • Fiery Redhead: Diana has red hair and is prone to emotional outbursts.
  • Five-Man Band: The Athena Club
    • The Leader: Mary Jekyll, the most logical and organized of the group and the one who brought them all together.
    • The Lancer: Diana Hyde, Mary's sister and Foil.
    • The Smart Guy: Catherine Moreau, possessing a combination of book smarts and animal cunning.
    • The Big Guy: Justine Frankenstein, the largest and strongest member of the group.
    • The Chick: Beatrice Rappaccini, the most traditionally feminine and empathetic member. She also serves as The Medic.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Any character who writes a note in the book survives the events of the story, as they wouldn't be around to leave the note if they didn't.
    • One of Mary's notes about half way through the story directly states that they end up solving the Whitechapel Murders, much to Catherine's chagrin.
  • For Science!: What the motivation of many members of the Alchemical Society boils down to.
  • Framing Device: The story is being told as Catherine's latest novel, with the other characters writing notes either criticising her work or commenting on events.
  • Frankenstein's Monster:
    • Justine is a creation of Dr. Frankenstein, meant to be the mate of the original.
    • The original, Adam Frankenstein, turns out to be the Big Bad of the story.
    • The Whitechapel murders were committed so that Adam and Hyde could gather parts and construct a new bride for Adam.
  • The Freakshow: At the start of the story, Catherine and Justine are performers in Lorenzo's Circus of Marvels and Delights.
  • Gentle Giant: Justine abhors violence and is haunted by the lives she has had to take in self-defense.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Despite being raised apart for most of their lives, Mary and Diana quickly fall into this.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The machinations of a faction within the Alchemical Society are indirectly responsible for the events of the story and remain a threat at the end.
  • Greek Chorus: Thanks to the Framing Device of the story, the Athena Club function as a version of this, writing notes on Catherine's manuscript commenting on the events of the story.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Both Prendick and Hyde say "I'm a biologist/chemist, not a surgeon," when Adam demands they operate on Justine.
  • Innate Night Vision: Catherine has this, due to being a Cat Girl.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: The book starts with Mary attending her mother's funeral, at which it is raining. However, this is lampshaded to be more that it frequently rains in London.
  • Jack the Ripper: While the moniker is never mentioned and the killings take place over a much shorter timespan, the "Whitechapel Murders" commited by Adam Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde are clearly supposed to bring this to mind.
  • Mad Scientist: The Alchemical Society is group made up almost inclusively of these, including some of fiction's most notorious examples.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: The Athena Club is exclusively made up of examples of this trope.
  • Magnum Opus: Dr. Moreau saw Catherine as his, which is why he allowed her to use his last name.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Not only are the members of the Athena Club connected to four works of Victorian Literature, but they also recruit the help of Sherlock Holmes and interact with characters from Dracula.
  • Master of Unlocking: Diana is a skilled lock pick and is called upon multiple times to get passed locked doors.
  • Meaningful Name: The Athena Club is named as a reference to the fact that the goddess Athena was born from Zeus' head, in much the same way the members of the club are products of their fathers' minds.
  • The Medic: Beatrice studied under her father, a renowned physician, and thus is the most medically knowledgeable of the Athena Club.
  • Miss Swears-a-Lot: Diana, who a few times in the commentary swears so profusely that Catherine doesn't repeat it.
  • Noodle Incident: The girls will occassionaly reference later adventures in their notes, without giving any context to the reader.
  • Old-School Chivalry:
    • Dr. Watson insists on Mary (and later, the other girls) not putting herself/themselves into dangerous situations, even though Mary and the rest are capable of protecting themselves.
    • Inspector Lestrade makes the same insistences, though much more rudely than Watson.
  • Plant Person: In addition to being a Poisonous Person, Beatrice displays various plant traits, notably subsisting on a form of photosynthesis.
  • Poisonous Person: Beatrice's touch can cause chemical burns and her breath is toxic enough to kill small animals. Her poison is potent enough to kill a person if they're in a confined space with her for too long.
  • Proper Lady: Mary acts every part the English gentlewoman.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Justine has been alive for over a century, but still appears as a relatively young woman.
  • Recursive Fiction: Frankenstein exists within the story's universe, where it is only partially fictional and known as Frankenstein: A Biography of the Modern Prometheus.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mary is polite and logical while Diana is crass and passionate.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the story, the Athena Club recieves a letter from Lucinda Van Helsing, begging for their help.
  • Setting Update: "Rappaccini's Daughter" originally takes place some time between 1621 and 1844, where here, the events took place in the late 19th century.
  • Sherlock Scan: Sherlock naturally performs this a few times in the story, notably using it on a riverboat captain in order to prove he is, in fact, Sherlock Holmes.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Atlas, the strong man in Lorenzo's circus, is in love with Justine, though it's unclear how much she returns his affections.
    • By the end of the story, there is a hint of something between Mary and Sherlock.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The riverboat that Mary and the others travel on after the battle is named The Hesperus, presumably in reference to Longfellow's poem "The Wreck of the Hesperus".
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Mary and Diana are complete opposites of one another.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Mary was raised as a Proper Lady but will pull out her revolver and shoot someone when the moment calls for it.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In "Rappaccini's Daughter" Beatrice takes the antidote Giovanni gives her and dies. Here, she refuses to take it, and it's Giovanni who dies.
    • In The Island of Doctor Moreau, the unnamed puma woman who kills Dr. Moreau is killed by him in turn, but here, Catherine emerges from the confrontation unharmed.
    • In Frankenstein, Viktor never completes the monster's bride and destroyed what he had made. Here he did finish creating Justine, though Shelly's book claims that he had destroyed her.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Adam is obsessed with having Justine.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver:
    • The group all disguise themselves at men at one point to escape some pursuers.
    • Diana takes to cutting her hair short and dressing in boy's clothes, which leads to her getting mistaken for a boy by a police officer.
  • Team Mom: Mrs. Poole, Mary's housekeeper, serves as a motherly stand-in for all the girls.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Mary is a polite Proper Lady while Diana is crass and a Wholesome Crossdresser.
  • Uplifted Animal:
    • Catherine, who started life as a puma, but now passes easily for an educated young woman.
    • Prendick's Beast Men also qualify, though to a lesser degree.
  • Victorian London: The story is more or less a grand tour of London at the end of the 19th century.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In their notes, some of the girls express doubt that anyone would want to read about their adventures.
  • Woman Scorned: Catherine dispises Prendick, her former lover, who left her on Moreau's island to die.
  • World's Strongest Man: Atlas is billed as such in Lorenzo's circus.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are!: Both Beatrice and Justine are better at speaking English than they give themselves credit for.

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