European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, by Theodora Goss, continues the adventures of the Athena Club—a gathering of women who were all experiments and daughters of alchemists—from their meeting and formation of the Club in The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter. This time out, the Club are trying to rescue another daughter-experiment, one Lucinda Van Helsing.
1—When Last We Left Our Heroines
Mary, Diana, Justine, and an increasingly unstable Lucinda had disappeared, kidnapped by Mr. Hyde, who is Mary and Diana’s father. He’s had them taken to a crumbling castle in the middle of the Styrian forest. Hyde wants Lucinda’s blood, and is willing to take it at gunpoint, to try to save his patient.
Meanwhile, it becomes clear to Catherine and Beatrice that Cat has accused the wrong person in the circus of stealing her telegram from Irene Norton and spying on them. Irene then buys their contract from Lorenzo, the owner of the circus, so that they can travel to Miss Mina Murray—Mary’s old governess and the one who informed them of Lucinda’s plight, and the person Mary and company were supposed to have met up with. But while disguised as nuns, Catherine runs into her old lover and now enemy, Prendick, who’s in cahoots with Abraham Van Helsing. And Catherine overhears Van Helsing and his cohorts planning to take power in the Societe des Alchemistes by force.
2—Meet the Vampires
We meet Carmilla when she appears outside the second story window of Castle Karnstein and helps the girls escape with the comatose Lucinda. Carmilla can climb up and down walls like a lizard, thus the second story stuff. She and her lover Laura then take them all to another smaller—but not falling apart—castle, where they get a good night’s sleep before taking off early the next morning in Carmilla’s motor car. When they finally get to see Mina, she’s at the Budapest house of Carmilla’s godfather, Count Dracula.
3—Finally Meeting the Societe des Alchemistes
Once everyone is gathered at Count Dracula’s, they make their plans to infiltrate the meeting of the Societe. Their aims are twofold—prevent Abraham Van Helsing from taking over and convince the Societe to stop their experiments in biological transmutation. Of course, this partially depends on if Dracula’s hypothesis about vampiric madness is correct and they can save Lucinda’s mind.
There’s so much more going on I could tell you about, but that would spoil the surprises. I thoroughly enjoyed European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman and can’t wait for the next book in the series.