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.