My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix by Kalynn Bayron #YA #retelling #classics

In this gothic YA remix of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, a teen boy tries to discover the reason behind his best friend’s disappearance—and the arrival of a mysterious and magnetic stranger—in misty Victorian London.

London, 1885. Gabriel Utterson, a 17-year-old law clerk, has returned to London for the first time since his life— and that of his dearest friend, Henry Jekyll—was derailed by a scandal that led to his and Henry’s expulsion from the London Medical School. Whispers about the true nature of Gabriel and Henry’s relationship have followed the boys for two years, and now Gabriel has a chance to start again.

But Gabriel doesn’t want to move on, not without Henry. His friend has become distant and cold since the disastrous events of the prior spring, and now his letters have stopped altogether. Desperate to discover what’s become of him, Gabriel takes to watching the Jekyll house.

In doing so, Gabriel meets Hyde, a a strangely familiar young man with white hair and a magnetic charisma. He claims to be friends with Henry, and Gabriel can’t help but begin to grow jealous at their apparent closeness, especially as Henry continues to act like Gabriel means nothing to him.

But the secret behind Henry’s apathy is only the first part of a deeper mystery that has begun to coalesce. Monsters of all kinds prowl within the London fog—and not all of them are out for blood…

I’ve read the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so I was curious about this retelling. I’m a fan of Bayron’s, so that made me even more eager to read it.

Dark alleys, an ominous science lab, foggy streets – atmosphere certainly isn’t lacking in this novel. Henry and Gabriel are young, gay Black men studying to become doctors, a goal not easily accomplished in Victorian England. Homophobia and racism are prevalent, but considering the setting is 1885 that’s not surprising. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from those issues, and her MCs had to deal with them on an ongoing basis throughout the story. They way they’re treated angered me, but is consistent with the times.

When Henry suddenly becomes distant and cold and practically a recluse inside his home, Gabriel is desperate to learn the reason. He’s even more perplexed and jealous when Hyde shows up and has unlimited access to the Jekyll household. There’s something familiar about him Gabriel can’t put his finger on, and he cares too much about Henry to let the situation rest.

For me, Henry and Gabriel’s relationship seemed to develop over the span of a few pages. Another reviewer mentioned a year passes between chapters, but I listened to the audiobook and didn’t immediately pick up on that. My impression was they meet in one chapter, write several letters to each other, and are in a serious relationship by the next chapter. Don’t get me wrong, they’re adorable and take a chance even being together, but it was initially difficult to be invested. It’s a short novel, the primary focus of the story is on Henry’s transformation to Hyde and the monsters (literal and figurative) he’s forced to deal with, and that’s what I’d hoped.

This is the second remix I’ve read in this series, and I’ve enjoyed both retellings (the endings are better than the originals!). I’m looking forward to reading more.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

What About the Classics?

Outside of students in English Literature classes, does anyone still read the classics?  Starting somewhere around three years ago, I made it a personal goal to read at least one classic per year and, so far, I’ve been able to follow that rule pretty easily.

One of my favorite teachers was my English teacher from grades 7 through 9 – yes, I had the same one.  Small school.  She first encouraged me to read Little Women and then Jane Eyre.  I don’t 110810remember much about Jane Eyre – and I won’t tell you how many years ago that was – but I read Little Women at least four times.    I believe reading those books at such an early age gave me a love of period stories and even today I enjoy some historical fiction.  Of course, the writing is a different style and structure and it’s as if I have to shift gears  in my mind before reading classics.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and am currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.  I take my time reading these books and may stretch it out over a few months, but I’m also usually reading a couple of other books, working on writing my own, and editing my critique partner’s book.  Someone told me they were surprised I read Pride and Prejudice because I don’t read “chick lit” or romance novels – and it’s true, I don’t, but despite what others may think, I don’t consider Pride and Prejudice a romance, although by most standards, maybe it is.  To me, it’s a story with a strong female protagonist who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, even to someone considered aristocracy, and doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of women during that time.  And then she gets the guy in the end.

One of my oldest son’s friends, a senior in high school, recently told me he had to read Pride and Prejudice for English class.  Putting it in the same class as Gone With the Wind, the “girl book” he’d read for class the year before, he wasn’t looking forward to reading it.  He also had no problem admitting that by the second chapter, he’d actually liked it.  I’m hoping maybe he’ll try reading some more classics on his own.

I guess after I finish The Picture of Dorian Gray, I’ll start on some more Jane Austen.  One of my sons gave me a collection of her complete works for Christmas – after telling him that was what I wanted, of course.  Who knows what he would have gotten for me otherwise.