In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, author, Theodora Goss, combines and re-imagines several classic horror stories, (including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, etc.), to create a literary mash-up with lots of humor and more than a touch of girl power. The best way I can think to explain it is to imagine a feminist version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where the “daughters” of famous mad scientists band together to solve a series of grisly murders. With an assist from Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the ladies use their unusual talents and abilities to confront their monstrous pasts and to track down the mysterious Société des Alchimistes.
While the narration, as told by Catherine Moreau with lots of commentary and interjections from the other ladies, could be a little distracting for some readers, I found it amusing and thought it gave the reader a sense of all the different personalities that were coming together to form the team. The author did a great job of giving enough backstory for each of her characters so the reader doesn’t feel lost if they haven’t read all of the original books but for those who have, the little literary shout-outs and references were a lot of fun. My only complaint was, considering the mad scientist theme of the story, if I was going to include an Arthur Conan Doyle character in the book, I would have gone for someone from The Lost World as opposed to Sherlock Holmes. Still, since the Alchemist’s Daughter is obviously the first in a series, there is still time for the ladies to encounter many more literary figures on their adventures.
All in all, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is a fun romp through classic horror / adventure stories and makes a great Halloween read for a reader who wants something suitably spooky for the season but not especially scary or gory.
With Halloween just two weeks away, I am still scrambling to put together this year’s Halloween costume. If you’re like me and still looking for some costume ideas and inspiration, check out these two edgy Halloween looks for book lovers.
It’s no secret that I am a big Edgar Allan Poe fan and I’ve had a lot of fun putting together Poe – inspired outfits in the past, including this one featuring my Nevermore Ring, but this year I decided to go really wild and give my favorite Poe poem an edgy punk rock vibe. So I started with my Raven Stacking Bracelets from my new line of Leather – Bound Book Bracelets and combined them with some distressed jeans, leather books and jacket, and lots of cool and creepy raven – themed accessories for a Halloween look with lots of poetic attitude.
Next up, I made this cool Halloween outfit inspired by the evil Mr. Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I really loved this dramatic black and red skull tank that I found on Polyvore so I used it as a starting point for the entire outfit. I added a tailored jacket and top hat for a cool steampunk vibe and then added a lot of fun accessories, including a walking stick with a skull topper, skull ring, and my new Jekyll and Hyde leather bracelet. As the perfect finishing touch to this Mr. Hyde costume, I added a red vial necklace to the outfit to represent Mr. Hyde’s transformation serum that will change him back into Dr. Jekyll.
So what do you think, book lovers? Would you love to rock out as the Raven this Halloween or embrace your dark side as Mr. Hyde? Is there a particular book or character you would like to see featured in one of my bibliophile style guides? Let me know in the comments!
After a run of disappointing reads, it was a delight to discover A House Among The Trees by Julia Glass. The book centers on the recently deceased children’s book author and artist, Mort Lear, and the various characters who are left to pick up the pieces after he dies, including his long-time assistant, an actor who will be playing Mort in an upcoming bio-pic, the man who unwittingly inspired the character that made Mort famous, and the museum curator who is desperate to secure Mort’s papers and drawings for her museum. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into with this book, particularly themes of honoring the people we lose, (their stories and their legacies), of how and why people distance themselves from each other and how easy it is to get trapped – even by things that originally seemed positive. But what I really loved the most about A House Among The Trees was the author’s skill at creating her central character. Glass used the real-life children’s author, Maurice Sendak as the foundation for Mort, grafting layers of fiction onto elements lifted directly from Sendak’s life and using Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, as inspiration for the fictional story book that rocketed Mort to fame and fortune. In the hands of a lesser author, this could have backfired badly, but Glass manages to use just enough of the real author to make Mort feel like a real (and beloved) part of her readers’ childhood and to infuse Mort’s book with the same sort of menace and wonder that was often found in Sendak’s work. This works well to draw the reader into the story, giving them a real emotional connection to Mort and making them feel invested in his story and legacy.
I hate to admit it but I am a bit of a purist when it comes to books. It’s rare that I find a modern take on a classic that is both faithful enough to the original text to avoid annoying me but that still brings something new and interesting enough to the story that makes it worth reading. To my surprise, Sarah Shoemaker’s Mr. Rochester – a re-telling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – manages to achieve both. Since the original book was from Jane’s perspective, readers only learned what Mr. Rochester chose to share about his past and motivations. But Shoemaker takes advantage of that fact and provides a rich backstory that builds upon Bronte’s foundation. In the first part of the book, we learn about Rochester’s youth and education and I got both a slight Dickens vibe at times and subtle parallels to Jane’s early years.
Later on, Shoemaker turns her attention to life at Thornfield Hall after Rochester meets Jane Eyre. During this part of the book, the author turns the original dynamic on its head so that now it’s Jane that comes across as inscrutable and out of reach, while Rochester becomes increasingly desperate to force some acknowledgement of her feelings from her. Since the odds are that anyone reading this book will have read the original story and know how it ends, Shoemaker focuses on exploring the motivation behind some of the Bronte’s most baffling plot points – specifically why Rochester behaves the way he does when he is trying to win Jane’s love and why his father and brother trick him into marrying Bertha in the first place even though they knew she was mad. If at times the author works a little too hard to justify some of Rochester’s odder moments, including dressing up as an old gypsy woman or pretending to be in love with Blanche when he really wants to marry Jane, it’s totally forgivable since she, (and Charlotte Bronte), have done such a good job at making Rochester into a character that readers want to love. The extra plot elements she added to explore the history between the Rochester and Mason families was interesting and well done and I have to admit, after all the ups and downs of the story, I broke into a huge grin at the line, “Reader, she married me.”
All in all, I definitely recommend Mr. Rochester for all my fellow Charlotte Bronte fans who are looking to revisit this classic story.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And so to celebrate the day that the world met Harry Potter and the 20 years of magic that has followed, here is a fun outfit for Harry Potter fans inspired by the “Boy Who Lived.” I wanted to create a magical, but stylish tribute to one of my favorite fandoms, so I started with a bold, Gryffindor red and gold color scheme and added a bunch of fun Harry Potter accessories, including a lightning bolt necklace, a golden snitch bracelet, and a gorgeous Harry Potter book purse from the Novel Creations Etsy shop that was inspired by the book that started it all! Enjoy!
What do you think, book lovers? Can you believe that Harry Potter came out 20 years ago?!! I sure can’t! But I do want to wish a very happy anniversary to Harry Potter and send a very big thank you to J.K. Rowling for 20 years of magic!
The ultimate “staycation read” for when you are longing to run away from your everyday existence, The Enchanted April is every bit as enchanting as the title suggests. The story tells of four English women, each struggling with various disappointments and loneliness, who decide to pool their resources and rent a romantic Italian villa for the month of April. Although the woman are very different in background and temperament – which leads to the occasional, (and rather funny), butting of heads – each experiences a sort of renewal during their stay at San Salvatore.
My only complaint about this light but highly enjoyable book is that the resolution of all the character’s problems seemed to come together rather quickly and easily without much more effort than a simple (and much needed attitude change). I guess the moral of the story is that it’s easier to evaluate your life and make changes in a villa on the Mediterranean than back home in your everyday life, and if that’s the case, I am more than willing to try it. I would have also loved an epilogue (or a sequel) that explored how all of these vacation epiphanies and romances continued (or didn’t) once everyone got back home. But other than that, I really enjoyed this fun little novel and highly recommend that you add it to your summer reading list.
Your Fourth of July fashion meets the “great American novel” with this fun summer outfit featuring a Great Gatsby ring from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. Perfect for a Fourth of July BBQ or enjoying some extra reading time over the holiday weekend, this fun Fourth of July outfit is a great way to celebrate our nation’s independence AND your love of books and literature.