Friday, January 22, 2016

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr


Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, the origins of which are occluded by expert opinions, ranting egotism, and fractured ideology depending on whom you talk with. Did steampunk begin as a “cosplay” trend? And cosplay – or “costume players” – which became fashionable at conventions, is hated by many and loved by more. My humble opinion on all of this is simple – I’m in favor of anything where people are having fun. Anyway, allow me a moment to adjust the steam-fueled auto-gyro in my medulla oblongata – hisss! chink! plonk! pfssttt! clank! – ahh, that’s better. Miss Viola Carr has written an excellent steampunk novel. The Diabolical Miss Hyde freely borrows characters and elements from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while putting a fresh spin to it. Touted as an “Electric Empire Novel,” The Diabolical Miss Hyde exists in a steam fueled Victorian world that might have been developed better, but the fast-pacing makes up for the lack of world-building. Of interest here is the character of Dr. Eliza Jekyll, daughter of the late Henry Jekyll. Eliza also appears in this extravaganza as Miss Lizzie Hyde. Oh that Lizzie is a naughty girl! She’s the opposite of Eliza in every way. When Eliza begins investigating a series of murders by The Chopper, she meets the handsome Captain Remy Lafayette, an investigator for the Royal Society, and sparks fly between the two. Captain Lafayette is attracted to Eliza, but will Lizzie be the one that has all the fun? As it turns out, Captain Lafayette has a secret of his own, but readers will need to plod through some sinister plots before they find out what that secret is. The last third of The Diabolical Miss Hyde has all of the plot twists that you can possibly shake loose in a melodrama. Sometimes predictable, but infused with some lively characterizations, I enjoyed The Diabolical Miss Hyde to the point where I have already purchased the sequel, The Devious Dr. Jekyll. The back cover photo of author Viola Carr makes me wonder if she isn’t a devious cosplayer herself. She looks like she’s having as much fun as Lizzie Hyde. The Diabolical Miss Hyde is this month’s recommended fix for the literati.

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