I love it when I come across fiction of the fantasy and science fiction variety that I can and want to devour ravenously. This happened in college when I discovered Octavia Butler and then read everything she’d ever written in a week and last year when a friend introduced me to N.K. Jemisin and spent several months reading two of her series. This only ever happens with fiction for me and I think I may be doing the same with Goss, albeit a bit slower since I’ve opted to consume these books in audio form.
So all that is to say that I love the series that is The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club.
Book two in the series, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, finds us a few months from where book one left off. All the ladies of the Athena Club have managed to find some kind of employment, as a continuing favorite theme of mine are the actual lived realities of women in this century and their struggles to live well without male counterparts to support them. The adventure this time is centered around the disappearance of a young girl in Budapest/Vienna who had previously reached out to them, while simultaneously a mystery is unfolding with the Alchemist’s society in London. So the group is forced to split. This split actually ends up functioning as a nice way for us to dive deeper into each character’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Whereas book one was primarily a vehicle for introducing the various monstrous women, their families, and Alchemist’s society, and the realities of their experiences, in European Travel we get to see the women fail a bit more often and come face to face with their weaknesses even as they learn more about their own supernatural origins. The adventures and trials are actually hard for them, which can be refreshing in some fantasy worlds where the heroes are maybe too often able to overcome without convincing struggle. It’s absolutely thrilling every step of the way.
European Travel also sees the introduction of even more characters tied to other literature which is, of course, one of the other joys of reading this series. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to reread classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, etc etc ever in my life until now. And in fact, until I get a chance to I’ve been re-watching random episodes of TV shows related to those titles, so intense is my hunger because of these books.
Obviously, I can’t recommend the books enough. They are fun and thoughtful and lovely and exciting. And even though it’s a slower way to read, I’ve been doing so via audio book because, as I mentioned in my review for the first, Kate Reading is so brilliant and I can’t imagine them without her voice now.