Theodora Goss’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is officially the first volume of “The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club,” but I think that’s only because “The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen” might have had some trademark problems.
Because really, this is doing the same thing that Alan Moore’s comic was doing: Grabbing characters out of Victorian pulp fiction as if they were real people living in a shared universe, and then giving them an adventure together. But of course, here it’s taking heroines rather than heroes, which provides an opportunity for some social commentary along the way.
So the book starts off with Mary Jekyll dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy, and proceeds to wind its way through the streets of London, encountering everyone you might expect to encounter, and a few that you might not have thought of.
It’s a solid, well-paced adventure story with a bit of feminism tossed in along the way. It’s a little weirdly blind about class issues—there’s a lot of matter-of-fact acceptance of the privileges that come with being a gentlewoman—and I think basically everyone in the book is white, but maybe some of that is explored in later books. Enjoyable light fun.