The second book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club.


Publication year: 2018

Format: Audio

Running time: 24 hours, 27 minutes
Narrator: Kate Reading

The members of the Athena Club are all young women who have suffered because of their fathers’ scientific experiments. Mary Jekyll and Diana Hyde are half-sisters, and their father is the infamous Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde. Catherine Moreau was fashioned from a panther by Dr. Moreau. Justine Frankenstein was the female monster that the famous doctor created. Giacomo Rappaccini exposed his daughter Beatrice to poisons, so she can’t even touch other humans without poisoning them. Now, they all live together in the same house as best friends, who bicker a lot.

Their fathers (creators) were all members of the Alchemical Society. Now it seems that the Society is again experimenting on young girls. Mary’s former governess, Miss Mina Murray, sends a telegram to Mary that Lucinda Van Helsing has been kidnapped and Miss Murray asks for the Club’s help in finding her. Mary and the others agree, even though it means traveling to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, they all can’t afford to go, so Mary and Justine decide to take the trip. Of course, it’s difficult for women to travel alone and Justine is very tall for a woman so she poses as Mary’s brother. And before they can even cross the channel, they realize that 14-year-old Diana has disguised herself as a boy and followed them. They have no choice but to allow her to come with them. Meanwhile, Beatrice and Catherine have adventures of their own in England.

This book is mostly a road trip. Mary, Diana, and Justine travel all over Europe in carriages and trains, with Diana complaining about boredom and hunger. The writing style is similar to the first, meaning that the characters interrupt the story constantly with their complaints and opinions. This is fun at first, but adds a lot of pages to the book and robs all tension, just as happened in the first book.

This time, too, we meet famous literary characters (Sherlock Holmes and Watson make a brief appearance and Irene Norton (Adler) becomes the women’s ally) as well as more obscure characters. Since Van Helsing is involved, the reader can guess early on what sort of monsters and monstrous women the characters face. This was one of my frustrations with the book. Because I knew what they were facing, the characters felt very dense at times. The other frustration was with the constant interruptions and in an audiobook I can’t skip over them. Also, lots of unnecessary details. But if you can overlook these things, this is a delightful book.

I love the characters. Their personalities play off each other very well. I also love the idea of taking minor female characters and giving them their own voice and empowerment. The Alchemical Society is also a great idea and we get to know a lot more about it.

The main story is wrapped up, but the final chapter ends with a huge cliffhanger and there’s a continuing subplot about Holmes and Watson. So I dived right into the next book.