Title: The Diabolical Miss Hyde
Author: Viola Carr
Series: Electric Empire (Book #1)
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Format: Paperback, 464 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062363085 (HarperCollins)
ISBN-13: 978-0062363084 (HarperCollins)
Reviewed by: Steph
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 . . .
Quick & Dirty: Eliza Jekyll has a string of murders to solve, but her alter ego, Lizzie Hyde, has some plans of her own in this interesting, but not great, first book in the Electric Empire series.
Opening Sentence: In London, we’ve got murderers by the dozen.
Women are being murdered in an alternate version of Victorian London. Brutally murdered – with body parts missing. Eliza Jekyll is determined to find out who’s behind the crimes, despite having to deal with misogynistic behavior at every turn. In addition to trying to solve the murders, she has to deal with the arrival of a Society Inspector, one who has the power to arrest her at the slightest hint of the use of anything other than “normal” science. While Eliza uses all the usual methods of scientific investigation, she has a far more dangerous secret. For Eliza is the daughter of Dr. Henry Jekyll – a man who developed an elixir that split him in two. And now Eliza has the same problem. She’s had to deal with the presence of her alter ego Lizzie Hyde for years, but with the help of a remedy, she’s been able to keep Lizzie at bay. Until now. For Lizzie is beginning to make herself known at all times, a constant presence in the back of Eliza’s head. And the need to transform into Lizzie has begun happening more often as well, with one such instance resulting in Lizzie possibly becoming a murderess. Will Eliza be able to prove Lizzie’s innocence, find the the Chopper serial killer, and prevent herself from descending into madness?
I was a little hesitant in picking this book up just because, as much as I love steampunk, it can be incredibly complicated. On the bright side, the world here isn’t too complicated. The bad news though is that it’s not very well explained either. The reader is just thrust into the world with no explanations as to how it operates. The Fey exist here, but I have no idea how they got here or why they stayed. On the subject of lack of explanation, there is also no real back story given on a previous case of Eliza’s that plays a very important role in the story. I thought I may have missed a prequel somewhere along the lines, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It was very frustrating to feel like I had been left out of the loop somewhere along the line.
All of that aside, the strength of this novel lies in the characters and their interactions with each other. Eliza and Lizzie are both great characters, although I have to admit to liking Lizzie more. While she is brash and doesn’t always think through her actions, there’s a vulnerability to her that makes her very easy to connect to. Eliza isn’t quite as easy to connect to, but she is still a very likeable character in her own right. I have great admiration for how she’s able to stand up to the misogyny she’s faced with every single day. When she actually begins to acknowledge rather than fight Lizzie, she becomes an even stronger character, and I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.
All in all, this was a good first book in a series, but not a great one. Despite the lack of an explanation for the world, I found myself caught up in what was going on and often didn’t want to put the book down. With a little more effort given to explain the world, this could turn into a great series.
A desperate feather of reason tickled the back of her neck. Startled, she opened her eyes.
The long mirror on the cabinet wall reflected her, stark and pale in her white chemise. Her reddened eyes were demented. She breathed deep, shuddering, sweating, the fever sprinting madly under her skin, a dread curse she couldn’t escape.
She shouldn’t. She mustn’t.
But she had to.
She squeezed her eyes shut against the fire’s glare and tipped the flask to her lips.
Molten gold, rolling down her throat. Thick salt stung her tongue, coated the inside of her mouth, sickening yet delicious. Thirst ripped her raw, and she gulped, mouthful on mouthful…
Fire erupted in her guts, sweeter than any caress. She groaned in pure abandon. Spreading outwards through her belly, tingling along her limbs, a shivering shock wave of delight…
Agony, hacking every nerve ragged. Muscles contorting, bones twisting, red mist descending like poison, it’s torture, it’s being dragged apart on the rack in some rat-infested Tower chamber, beyond endurance, no one can take this, no one. A scream crawls up her throat, she’s yelling, I’m yelling, she’s clawing at her face but it’s my face, my hands, my nails catching in her hair. We throw our head back, arching our spine, joints grating, our muscles shudder and squeal and thrash one final time…
Suddenly, the pain falls silent. The red mist dissolves…and in the mirror, dark eyes flash, wicked and alive with intent.
Sharp, intelligent face, crooked seducer’s smile, a body with lush, dangerous curves. Long curly hair tumbles over the white chemise, no longer fine and blond but dark, lustrous mahogany.
And here I stand.
Electric Empire Series:
2. The Devious Dr. Jekyll (October 27, 2015)
FTC Advisory: HarperCollins provided me with a copy of The Diabolical Miss Hyde. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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