The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter // Book Review

“Phew!” said Diana. “You would make a good criminal.”
“Yes, I worry about that sometimes,” said Watson.

Summary:

After the death of her mother, Mary Jekyll comes to learn of the curious relationship between her father and a murderer called Hyde. Dying to learn more, she embarks on a journey to solve the gruesome mysteries that involve a serial killer, an elusive society of alchemists, and a string of “monsters.”

***Note: This book is a retelling of classic crossovers from Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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This book reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Except that it’s somewhat cheerful and aimed at adults.

I am somewhat conflicted about this book. Because on the one hand, it felt like a fun and light Sherlock Holmes adventure that you could really enjoy, but at the same, the levity was precisely what kept the mystery from ever delving deeper into its implications.

For instance, although Mary Jekyll is the central protagonist, her personal stakes regarding her lunatic father are rarely addressed in the story, and I was rather peeved by that; I thought the finale at the very least would rectify this with some acknowledgement of Mary’s personal dilemma, yet it chooses to leave this matter almost fully untouched, and that left me thirsty for more character development.

Furthermore, in light of introducing too many new characters, there’s a lot of fourth-wall breaking in this book. Character interject in this story as though they themselves are the narrator, and it was rather jarring at times as they spoil things in advance for you or make funny comments in grave situations; and considering these jokes were coming from the victims’ of the conspiracy themselves, the levity often felt misplaced and the depth to these characters were stymied in retrospect.

In that, this book reads more like a campy sitcom than a murder mystery: it’s certainly written very well with great banter, witty prose, and upbeat characters, but the author tends to deflate all sense of urgency by choosing to make the jokes the punchline of the book, and I came out feeling rather ambivalent about it as a result.


Recommended? For whom?

Hmm, I’m split. This book has issues in terms of how it was presented, but all the elements of a good story are there: an ever-thumping beat to a cryptic mystery, spicy and endearing characters (i.e., Sherlock Holmes), and an uplifting girl power vibe.

So if you like classics and retellings, this book might be worth the read! It’s got graphic violence and mentions of sex, so it’s probably best for ages 14 and up.

“Bath, or you won’t get dinner.” Mary grabbed Diana by a dirty wrist and pulled her along. Dr. Watson walked beside them, trying not to smile as Diana glared and muttered under her breath.


Final thoughts: Half-baked, but still enjoyable.

This book had all the right ingredients for a great retelling, but it just didn’t have the teeth to truly take it there in terms of plot, suspense, or feels. As a result, the story felt almost unresolved, and the lack of tension or stakes ultimately negated whatever enjoyment I did get out of it in the end.

My rating: 2.5/5 frogs

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***Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for sending an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated here are solely my own and have not been influenced in any way.

***Updates: At the time this review is being published, I’ll likely be on a plane flying home! Therefore this’ll be the last post from me from me in a while; I might do a few book tags or something, but otherwise, I’ll just be lolling around and getting fat this Christmas. Goals.

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