I really enjoyed The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, so I was looking forward to reading the sequel. Overall, it did not disappoint.
Our heroines, the gang of monstrous “daughters” from the first novel, also known as the Athena Club, continue their investigations into the nefarious activities of certain rogue members of the Societe des Alchemistes. Mary, Beatrice, Cat, Diana and Justine find themselves in peril again as they travel across Europe to try and rescue Lucinda Van Helsing who has been infected with a strange disease. Oh, and they have to prevent Van Helsing and Dr Seward from taking over the Societe.
That’s basically the plot which unfolds slowly over 700 pages while our heroines eat a lot cake and make a lot of new friends, including Irene Adler, Mina Murray, Laura and Carmilla, not to mention Count Dracula himself. They also have to face some old foes, some of whom could be considered family, before finally confronting the President of the Societe, the mysterious Ayesha.
If, like me, you grew up reading the Victorian Gothic, this series is especially enjoyable. It’s like returning to a familiar world, but this time with women taking centre stage. It was great to meet Irene Adler and Mina Murray again and I thought they were very well done. It was also nice to see that things are working out for Laura and Carmilla.
If I have any criticism. I thought it was a bit too long and rambly and that there were too many characters. The final third dragged a bit, especially with Bea and Cat’s story. I felt that the author wanted to give all the main characters equal attention, but maybe that wasn’t entirely necessary.
At a whopping great 708 pages, this was not the best choice for a time-limited reading challenge, but I really liked it and will read the final book in the trilogy.
European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman is the kind of huge, cosy, fun fantasy novel you can just sink into. Perfect for curling up with on a cold rainy afternoon with a nice cup of tea.