by Terrance Mc Arthur
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & supports an indie bookstore.
You remember Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, don’t you? The man who was beside himself? Two personalities, good and evil, battling for control of one body? Now imagine that there was a daughter, stuck with the same struggle in a steampunk-fantasy version of London and you’ll have The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr.
Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime-scene investigator with a mini-clockwork sidekick, Hippocrates, and she’s tired of getting no respect from her superiors. Begrudgingly admired for capturing Mr. Todd, a serial killer known as Razor Jack, she’s tracking a new maniac, The Chopper, who cuts off parts of his victims. Despite Eliza’s single-minded dedication to her work, she is of a double mind. Part of her is Lizzie Hyde, a foul-mouthed, free-moraled, busty creature who can go places and do things that Eliza would never attempt, released by the elixir formulated by the Dr. Henry Jekyll.
After a notorious criminal (and police informant) is let free by the courts, Lizzie is blamed for his soon-after-that murder. Eliza’s efforts to clear her doppelganger’s name and solve the serial murders plaguing London are complicated by the presence of the Royal Society agent, Captain Lafayette, whose job is to ferret out those who cross the line of approved science into the practice of what is deemed alchemy and magic. Lafayette’s witty banter and nearness to her secrets bothers Eliza… and attracts Lizzie, who wants to claim him as her own. Naturally, the inspector has dangerous secrets of his own.
There are many questions to answer. Who is the Chopper? What is he doing with the body parts he takes? What hideous experiments are taking place in the Bedlam asylum among the lunatics? Can Eliza control Lizzie? Why does Captain Lafayette show up at the apothecary shop when Eliza needs her forbidden medications? Who is the never-seen benefactor who comes to whisper over Eliza’s shoulder in the night? Is it the King of the Rats, the ruler of a maybe-mythical magical realm below the city’s streets?
The most mesmerizing part of this book is the balancing act Carr plays with Eliza and Lizzie’s viewpoints. When Eliza is in charge, the view is third-person, describing what goes on and her thoughts. Lizzie, however, speaks out in her own, coarse voice, making her own comments and injecting her own feelings. It’s a dazzling display of character control. Steampunk London is crowded, chaotic, and touched with a paranormal tinge that the fine Victorian citizens pretend isn’t there, just as they ignore the city’s poverty and squalor. This historical urban fantasy is a rich tapestry, but the seams would fall apart without the binding thread of Dr. Eliza Jekyll.
To enter to win a copy of The Diabolical Miss Hyde, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hyde,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 21, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
Check out more fantasy book reviews in our fantasy and fangs section.
Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore: