Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this “tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) debut is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.
Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, 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, Catherin 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.
World Fantasy Award winner Goss's debut novel, richly reworking a short story (published in Strange Horizons in 2010) with influences as diverse as The Castle of Otranto and Mystery Science Theater 3000, brings her gothic-inflected fantasies roaring into the steampunk era. The main narrative is a standout pastiche of late Victorian mystery fiction, set in an alternate 1880s London and featuring Sherlock Holmes and a quintet of remarkable women: Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappacini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Mary Jekyll. Mary is penniless and hoping to remedy that by claiming the bounty on the fugitive Edward Hyde. She partners with Holmes to find him though Holmes is somewhat distracted by a killer who's targeting Whitechapel prostitutes and in the process discovers the other "monstrous" daughters of infamous scientists. Goss easily surmounts the challenge of making such a male-defined premise belong to the women as shapers of their own destinies. A peppering of the daughters' wry comments, first presented as brief marginalia, swiftly blossoms into dialogues and alternative takes on the tale in some cases nearly 200 pages before the commenter herself enters the plot. This is a tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight.