Tag Archives: Victorian thriller

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Impossible Girl

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang (Goodreads Author)
Amy Caudill‘s review

In 19th century New York a young woman, born under less than auspicious circumstances, makes a living in a male-dominated profession-as a resurrectionist.  Cora Lee and her alter-ego Jacob know how to find the best marks-the subjects with the most interesting anatomic anomalies that will draw top dollar from local medical schools and museums, once they die that is. 

Cora would never help someone along to the grave just to earn a fee; she knows all too well that if her secret got out, her own corpse would be a very profitable commodity.   Unfortunately, it seems some of her competition is not nearly as scrupulous.  Several of her cultivated future marks go missing, only to turn up dead from unnatural causes, and already stolen from the grave before Cora’s crew gets the chance.

Just as someone discovers the double life she has been leading, rumors of a girl with two hearts get out, and a museum of curiosities is willing to pay top dollar for the cadaver.  Unfortunately, the girl with two hearts is real; she is not dead; and she is Cora.  Will she become the next victim of the murderer/resurrectionist?  Who else knows Cora’s secret?  Who can she trust?

This story presents a murder mystery that is unique in both scope and subject.  It contains some unusual elements, such as a brief chapter narrated by each victim-their final moments, their fears and regrets.  These little chapters add additional shadowing to the story, which is told mostly from Cora’s point of view.  While the victims share what they know at the end, and shortly thereafter, the reader is still left hanging to the very last chapters of the book to find the identity of the real killers. 

Cora’s double identity, as a proper young lady who deals with doctors, medical schools and curators, as well as attending endless funerals to “scope out” the dig sites, and as her twin brother Jacob, a rough and tumble, rude, crude and unsavory character who leads the crew of grave robbers, manages to show both sides of her personality.  Cora is strong but vulnerable; naïve and street-smart; romantic and hard all at once.  The author has done an excellent job portraying this complex character, someone who has led a life most of us could only imagine.

Lydia Kang has obvious spent a great deal of time researching the time period and her character’s “profession,” as shown through her knowledge of period medical terminology and treatments, the street slang of the grave diggers, and esoteric knowledge of lifestyles and habits of the time.

I award this story 4.5 stars, and recommend it to any fans of Victorian-era mysteries, star-crossed romances, and strong female protagonists.

Series Review: Penny Dreadful

Where is the Cast of "Penny Dreadful" Today?
The main cast of Penny Dreadful are most series about their mission.

If you’re looking for something different to watch through the witching season, check out Penny Dreadful, currently available on Netflix.  Only three seasons long, this series, which was originally produced for Showtime, takes its title from a style of 19th century British sensational literature known for fanciful and lurid plots.

Join the ensemble cast of misfits from all walks of Victorian society as they uncover the mysteries behind the disappearance of one’s daughter, and the secrets of a group of hunters who only come out at night.  The group will face horrors and trials as they encounter supernatural events that come straight from the classic literary monsters that originated in the era.

Penny Dreadful Sequel Cast Adds Original Series Actor Rory Kinnear – /Film
Who is the real monster, Dr. Frankenstein or his creation?

Over the subsequent episodes, we are introduced to Mina Harker’s father, played by Timothy Dalton; Dr. Frankenstein and his “children, played principally by Rory Kinnear and Billie Piper;” Dorian Grey; Dr. Jekyll; a clairvoyant woman who is stalked by the devil, played by Eva Green; a werewolf or two; and a band of witches.

As the series continues, the audience is treated to a set of divergent plots that sometimes only include a few of the players at a time, with story lines that lead to further development of character, and events that when allowed to converge later, bring the whole cast together for an exciting conclusion.  This is especially notable in the final season, where half the cast were situated in America for half of the episodes, only returning to England at the dire urging of one newer character that portended a climatic and dangerous outcome if they did not swiftly stop it.

While the characters are exciting enough, the focus is not on the “monsters” themselves, but the true nature of good and evil.  The series as it continues, illustrates the point that human nature means we all have the potential to be either good or bad, depending on the choices we make.  Perhaps tellingly, sometimes the “monsters” are more human, more compassionate than their creators in this psychological thriller.

This show, which originally aired in 2014, also recently spawned a short-lived “sequel” called Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, which focused more on Mexican supernatural myths and was centered in 1930s San Francisco.

Penny Dreadful is an excellent choice for viewers who love classic movie monsters, Victorian-era thrillers, and those who just want good scare as Halloween is just around the corner.  Check it out!