Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde
By: Viola Carr
Published By: Voyager
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Page Count: 464
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Steampunk
I love the trappings of steampunk - clockwork, corsets, and Victorian culture. It's great fun to read about historical contexts that have been reimagined in Steampunk style. I was attracted to this novel not only because of its Steampunk elements, but also because it has a Jekyll and Hyde component. The London crafted by Viola Carr is vivid and alive. I highly recommend spending time there if you're thirsting for a murder mystery set in an inventive Steampunk world.
Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the famous Dr. Jekyll. Like her father, she has another side to her personality - a darkness that threatens to take over. It has been ages since I read the original tale by Stevenson, but I felt like this one does honor the original. Eliza is torn between her desires and those of Lizzie, her darker side. I liked that Eliza and Lizzie were vastly different people - even their appearance is opposite. Eliza is blond and pale while Lizzie is brunette and voluptuous. I believe that everyone has two sides - the angel and the demon - that are battling for the right to guide our decisions. Interestingly enough, I found that Lizzie's character wasn't as cut and dry as I was expecting. Yes, she thrives on darker pursuits than Eliza, but in some ways she is a symbol for justice. Her way of achieving that justice falls into the vigilante category while Eliza pursues more mainstream methods.
In addition to the internal conflict raging through Eliza, a serial killer is stalking the streets of London leaving behind a trail of gruesome corpses. The story opens as Eliza is investigating the death of a famous ballerina who has been brutally killed and left in the streets; the killer has taken the dancer's legs. Immediately, my mind began to wonder what sort of person would harvest body parts. Images of a Jack the Ripper/Frankenstein sort of figure began to run through my mind. I was hooked from this moment. Like Eliza, I wanted to know who was behind these heinous crimes and I wanted them brought to justice. The mystery component was well done and compelling.
Viola Carr's writing is vivid and lush. I found myself immersed in this world and driven by the need to solve the mystery. I also couldn't help thinking about the tv show, Penny Dreadful, as I read. I imagined this world in the dark color pallet from the show. I'm excited to see where this series heads in the future.
One Last Gripe: I felt overwhelmed at times reading this one because it was so detailed and intricate. I fully admit that this could have been due to the stresses of real life infringing on my reading time.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved that Eliza broke the gender stereotypes.
First Sentence: In London, we've got murderers by the dozen.
Favorite Character: Eliza
Least Favorite Character: The Chopper
Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry
In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career--or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.
When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.
Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .