Feature book: The Devious Dr Jekyll
The Devious Dr Jekyll by Viola Carr
This is book 2 in the Electric Empire series.
Dr Eliza Jekyll and Lizzie Hyde are two sides of the same character. Eliza is straitlaced and keeps her emotions and pleasures on a tight rein while always hurrying through her day, attending crime scenes and working to discover murderers. Meanwhile, Lizzie whirls through both her existence and your brain in backstreet action and bold colours.
Captain Remy Lafayette is an investigator for the Royal Society, charged with bringing fae creatures and magic users to the Tower to be interrogated and imprisoned. He knows Eliza/Lizzie’s secret and holds it to himself even tighter than his own. Remy’s dual nature is not as diametrically opposed as Eliza’s, apart from the obvious human/werewolf dichotomy. His human side is less straitlaced than Eliza’s, but he is bound in someof his actions by his position in the Royal Society
While this is an action adventure and murder mystery, Captain Remy courts Dr Eliza throughout the book with sly charm, quick-witted exchanges and a propensity to save her life (as does the razor-wielding Malachi Todd). There is progress in the romance between Remy and Eliza through much soul searching on Eliza’s part, and a change in her relationship with Malachi. Eliza and Lizzie come to loathe each other and both try to permanently lock the other out. After a series of near-death experiences, they come to value their opposite strengths and prefer not to exist in isolation.
Gruesome murders, misogyny and split personalities are back with a vengeance in the second book in the Electric Empire series by Viola Carr. I love it when Lizzie is on the page—the words just tumble into my brain. It’s as if I’m reading faster than when Eliza is on the page, which is not a criticism of Eliza but a reflection of Lizzie’s zest for life. It is thoroughly enjoyable how Viola weaves elements from all my favourite Victorian-era characters into her steampunk vision. This time she has reimagined Sherlock Holmes’ adversary, Moriarty, and created a cult built around the central idea from A Picture of Dorian Grey. Wild Johnny doesn’t appear as much in this book as he did in the first, or so it seems. Malachi gets his fair share of page time and Remy’s brother, Francois, makes his debut. A rather unpleasant potion-wielding Irishman enters the story as Professor Moriarty Quick (who I immediately loathed). Read The Diabolical Miss Hyde first, but you won’t be disappointed in The Devious Dr Jekyll, the second fantastic book in the Electric Empire series. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Gina
A review copy of this book was provided by the author. ARRA members who leave a comment by 30 December 2015 will go in the draw to win the book.