Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #32 of 2016
Old Firehouse Books Summer Bingo Square: A book you would have picked up as a teenager
Personal Challenge Categories:
– A book featuring a prisoner
– A book with horse-drawn carriages
– A book with a fictional treatment of a real person
Read Harder Task: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900

I simply adored the unholy heck out of this steampunk lit-fantasy romp! Even when I was spending way too much mental energy trying to sort out the anachronisms and fix Dr Jekyll and Miss Hyde in a specific part of the 19th century. I have a similar propensity to play fast and loose with the historical timeline, so I certainly can’t blame the author for my disorientation. I finally just let go of it, went along for the ride, and enjoyed the mash-up. I loved the literary winks — a Mr Todd who’s handy with a razor (and whose relationship with Eliza brings to mind a certain urbane cannibal); a Bedlam inmate named Lucy who has a thirst for blood; a doctor named Victor who has some strange ideas; and even a Judge Turpin. I have to wonder how many sweet little allusions I missed!

I’ll admit, I’m still a little confused about Ophelia’s hands, and there were a few things here and there that had me scratching my head. Possibly they referred back to something I missed earlier, or maybe the original comment got lost somewhere in the editing process. Some of the transition scenes were much smoother than others, and I can’t tell if that was intentional on Carr’s part. But I totally nailed the killer! (view spoiler)

One of the things I really appreciated about this book is that it characterized a lot of different gender- and sex-related power dynamics. Some were super obvious, of course, but others were developed much more subtly. And all the while these were playing out, the reader was never allowed to forget that the real power struggle lay within Eliza/Lizzie herself. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens with that in the next book.

View all my reviews

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