In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss introduced readers to The Athena Club whose members are Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau and Justine Frankenstein. They are the daughters of some of speculative fiction’s maddest scientists. In that novel, The Athena Club assisted with solving a series of murders in Whitechapel. The second novel, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, found The Athena Club on an international adventure of mystery and intrigue as they rescued Lucinda Van Helsing from her father, Abraham, and foiled his plot to take over the Alchemical Society. Now, the “girl monsters, or in some cases monstrous young women” are back for what may be their final adventure in The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl.
At the end of European Travels for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Mary Jekyll received a telegram informing her, and the other members of The Athena Club, that Alice, the scullery maid at 11 Park Terrace, Mary’s childhood home and now the headquarters for The Athena Club, had been abducted. It is decided that Mary, Justine and Diana will return immediately to London. Catherine and Beatrice will follow as quickly as possible. When Mary’s group arrives, they find that Alice has indeed been kidnapped. They also discover that Sherlock Holmes is still missing. There are any number of reasons why Holmes may be gone, but it is unusual that he didn’t inform Dr. Watson before leaving. Alice, on the other hand, was clearly taken against her will. Why would anyone take Alice? And could these two seemingly unrelated events somehow be connected?
As in the previous two novels, this one is another rousing adventure, although it stays, for the most part, within the geographic confines of England. But do not assume, since the stage is smaller, the action is reduced. There are thrilling rescue attempts (and at least one that is successful!) and equally thrilling escapes! There are opium dens, crumbling castles, and secret ceremonies held within the British Museum. In addition there are two 2,000 year old ancient Egyptians, and one is a recently reanimated mummy who is definitely a villain. The other may, or may not, be an ally to The Athena Club.
Goss continues to explore and develop the members of The Athena Club along with characters that played minor roles in the previous novels. She also introduces intriguing new characters and includes some cameos from notable characters from literature and history (including Queen Victoria herself).
This novel is an exciting adventure and the perfect way to end this excellent series. The only reservation is that it is the end of the series. Here’s hoping that someday, in the not terribly distant future, we will be able to join The Athena Club on another of their adventures.
The novel is available on e-Media.