1 star · 2014 · historical fiction · horror

mini review: Hyde by Daniel Levine

Hyde by Daniel Levine
Pub. date: March 18, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher (thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!)
Summary: Mr. Hyde is hiding, trapped in Dr. Jekyll’s surgical cabinet, counting the hours until capture. As four days pass, he has the chance, finally, to tell the story of his brief, marvelous life.

We join Hyde, awakened after years of dormancy, in the mind he hesitantly shares with Jekyll. We spin with dizzy confusion as the potions take effect. We tromp through the dark streets of Victorian London. We watch Jekyll’s high-class life at a remove, blurred by a membrane of consciousness. We feel the horror of lost time, the helplessness of knowing we are responsible for the actions of a body not entirely our own.

Girls have gone missing. Someone has been killed. The evidence points to Mr. Hyde. Someone is framing him, terrorizing him with cryptic notes and whisper campaigns. Who can it be? Even if these crimes weren’t of his choosing, can they have been by his hand?
Genre: Adult, Gothic, Horror

With my reviews, I tend to follow a format. Hyde, however, made me so angry – and nauseous – that I’m going to jump right into things. I apologize for the quotes below. I know they’re gross, but so is this book. Avoid it.

I’m not alone. Believe me, I am not alone.

I was so looking forward to having a great, albeit creepy, time with Hyde. After all, it’s a reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde, but one where Hyde is the hero and shown in a sympathetic light. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that at ALL here. Hyde is foul and disgusting, fully willing to do Jekyll’s dirty work for him and kill with no remorse.

The chapter titles confused me. They consist of four days, yet the story lasts far longer than that. I wasn’t entirely sure what these days meant. At first I thought perhaps that was how long Hyde was in control of the body, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case; in one chapter we’re with Hyde for over a month!

You would think Hyde would be a fascinating character, right? Sadly, it was the minor, secondary characters I felt more for. Jeannie, a sixteen-year-old prostitute Hyde frequently visits who winds up moving in with him (along with her younger sister) and ultimately becomes pregnant. At one point the sisters are cast out of the estate and that’s it. Jeannie wasn’t even given the chance to tell Hyde about the baby. I wanted more about her. Where did she go? What happened to the baby? Out of everyone, Jeannie was the character I was the most drawn to, and she was practically written out of the story and forgotten about. Another character I found intriguing was one who wasn’t even in the story: Emile Verlaine. Before the novel starts, Jekyll experiences a bit of scandal while in France when a young boy under his care committed suicide. Through a series of narratives, we learn Emile had other personalities, much like Jekyll. These personalities were separate entities with their own characteristics and likes and dislikes. Again, however, the ‘screen-time’ wasn’t enough for me and ended far too soon.

Hyde would have been a fairly lackluster story had I not noticed just how obsessed with fecal matter it was. At first it was a bird dropping on Hyde’s jacket. This happened twice and two scenes seemed two too many. It was then it became apparent that Hyde was a book about shit:

Dr. Petit said that L’inonnu mixed his own feces into the paint. pg. 211

The fecal stink from Carew was still in my nostrils… pg. 225

Numbly, I picked at my buttons, dragging off my sticking clothes. I pulled down my trousers and drawers and stared at the filthy streaks down my legs, a blast of stench making my cover my mouth and cough. I had soiled myself. pg. 227

We passed a horse pulled up to the kerb who lifted his tail and ejected a pile of green droppings that steamed like hot food. pg. 258

He dropped the book into the pot, he turned and unbuckled his trousers, hunkered down, and strained out a dry painful curl of movement. He stood and looked woozily down at the soiled book. pg. 289

Nope. No thank you. I wash my hands (both figuratively AND literally, if you please) of this novel and it is with a hearty sigh of relief that I’m finally done with it.

Disgusting and unnecessary, Hyde is a novel that I honestly cannot recommend. To anyone. At the end of the book is the original story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and if you’re interested in the inspiration (if you want to call it that) for Hyde, you can easily find a copy for much cheaper at a used bookstore. I hate writing negative reviews without anything positive to include, but there was nothing positive to be said about this book. It was less than 300 pages? I suppose that’s a plus. It’s really a shame; I love HMH’s Young Adult books, but this Adult novel was such a disappointment. Do yourself a favor and avoid this one.


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