Narrated by Dr. Henry Jekyll, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic embodiment of the dark side of the human consciousness, this ambitious first novel provides an alternate perspective on Jekyll’s chemical experiments on the split personality. Edward Hyde first emerges independent of Jekyll on the streets of London in 1884—not as the malevolent brute that Stevenson conjured, but as a member of the lower classes who is fiercely protective of his and Hyde’s friends and interests. But over the course of two years, Hyde develops a reputation for evil that confounds him—and that he suspects is being engineered by Jekyll, whose consciousness lurks inside his own, steering him into certain assignations and possibly committing atrocities while in his form. Levine slowly unfolds the backstory of Jekyll’s schemes for Hyde, relating to his earlier failed “treatment” of a patient with a multiple-personality disorder, and traumatic events from Jekyll’s own childhood that come to light in the novel’s tragic denouement. Levine’s evocation of Victorian England is marvelously authentic, and his skill at grounding his narrative in arresting descriptive images is masterful (of the haggard, emotionally troubled Jekyll, he writes, “He looked as if he’d survived an Arctic winter locked within a ship frozen fast in the wastes”). If this exceptional variation on a classic has any drawback, it’s that it particularizes to a single character a malaise that Stevenson originally presented belonging universally to the human condition. (Mar.)
It's Mr. Hyde's turn as unreliable narrator in this literary reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Accused of murder and sexual trafficking of minors, Hyde has hidden himself in Jekyll's closet. As he awaits discovery he unfurls a tale that sheds doubt on Jekyll's innocence—but does it absolve Hyde? Levine's palette includes every shade of gray as he explores moral ambiguity and mental anguish in this psychological gothic. VERDICT Levine's debut novel is deviously plotted but relies a great deal on readers having a close familiarity with the parent text, while the anachronistically graphic descriptions of sex and violence may be off-putting for some. On the other hand, readers who enjoy the grittier crime fiction of Dennis Lehane, James Ellroy, and John Connolly might give it a try.—Liv Hanson, Chicago
Levine debuts with a dark literary-fiction re-imagining of the macabre tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Dr. Jekyll's an "alienist," precursor of the psychiatrist, but it's Hyde who seizes control and rips the narrative open. Jekyll's studied in Paris recently, supposedly treating a man with multiple personalities, but after returning from France, Jekyll has befuddled those who know him best with his machinations--Utterson, his attorney, Lanyon, a fellow physician, and Poole, his butler. It seems he's brought chemicals that provoke an exchange of one personality for another, and secretly, Jekyll's dosing himself. Levine's rendering of bustling Victorian London, misty-cold winters and summers "filled with gauzy lemony light," provides the stage for Hyde's midnight, fog-shrouded ramblings from tavern to brothel. Levine's tale is dense, layered, sometimes obscure, its twisted origins resting with Jekyll's dead father, who inflicted upon the boy perverse sexual manipulations and other cruelties. With the potion, the buried perversions flower as Hyde plunges into London's debauched quarters, driven by Jekyll's sexual deviations. Hyde beds Jeannie, 14-year-old street girl, and then installs her at a derelict mansion he's leased, only to recognize he's acting out Jekyll's impotence in consummating a sexual relationship with married Georgiana, a lost love. Levine's characters are fully realized, but many are abandoned in narrative cul-de-sacs: a housekeeper, a Tarot reader, a maid who has been raped. Levine's masterful in his surrealistic observations of Hyde subsuming Jekyll. Hyde is all unfettered compulsion yet selfishly connected to his better nature because "[h]e was my hideout, my sanctuary." The fracture comes with Hyde's murder of Jekyll's acquaintance, Sir Danvers X. Carew, MP, part of the London Committee for the Suppression of Traffic in Young English Girls, after which Hyde-Jekyll retreat to an abandoned surgery with a dwindling supply of the chemical catalyst. Cleverly imagined and sophisticated in execution, this book may appeal to those who like magical realism and vampire stories, but the latter should know that the book is more intellectual than thriller.
“[An] ingenious revision . . . exposing the tender heart inside the brute and emphasizing the pathos of his predicament . . . A pleasure . . . [and] a worthy companion to its predecessor. It’s rich in gloomy, moody atmosphere (Levine’s London has a brutal steampunk quality), and its narrator’s plight is genuinely poignant.” — New York Times Book Review “Riveting Hyde renders evil in shades of gray . . . in his spellbinding first novel [Levine] offers many surprises and rich, often intoxicating prose. It’s a fascinating read.” — Washington Post “Levine’s account is a masterpiece of hallucination; his narrator is feverish, righteous, intense . . . And about that confession: Hyde doesn’t open it, and neither does Levine. He leaves it to Stevenson, to whom he is faithful with his prose. The shockers may be born of this century, but this chilling new version is a remarkably good fit with the original horror classic.” — Miami Herald “Levine’s intelligent and brutal first novel, Hyde, puts a fresh spin on the well-worn material . . . It goes beyond a companion piece to an independent novel worth reading in its own right.” — Columbus Dispatch “Hyde is masterfully told, with plenty of damp and spooky London gothic atmosphere . . . A haunting yarn with a sumptuous Victorian atmosphere exquisitely re-imagines Stevenson’s ‘monster,’ the maligned Hyde.” — Shelf Awareness “Richly detailed and engrossing portrait of psychological disintegration.” — LitReactor “Levine’s evocation of Victorian England is marvelously authentic, and his skill at grounding his narrative in arresting descriptive images is masterful.” — Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review “Ambitious and imaginative . . . Taking the parameters of Stevenson’s story, but deepening and extending the details, Levine allows us to view Hyde not merely as the venal incarnation of Jekyll’s soul, but as a fully fledged character in his own right—and, in many ways, a sympathetic one as well . . . With compelling intensity, Levine makes a noteworthy literary debut.” — BookPage “Levine’s masterful in his surrealistic observations of Hyde subsuming Jekyll . . . Cleverly imagined and sophisticated in execution.” — Kirkus Reviews “Prepare to be seduced by literary devilry! Go back to Victorian times to find a very postmodern whodunit. Visceral prose, atmosphere you could choke on, characters who seem to be at your very shoulder. My sole regret after spending several hours inside Daniel Levine’s highly literate thriller is that I didn’t think of Hyde for myself.” — Ronald Frame, author of Havisham “A gloriously disturbing portrait of man’s animal nature ascendant, Hyde brings into the light the various horrors still hidden in the dark heart of Stevenson’s classic tale of monstrosity and addiction. It’s Levine’s extraordinary achievement to give voice to a creature capable of indulging every impulse of transgression, while driving its higher self to damnation. Devious and ingenious, Hyde is a blazing triumph of the gothic imagination.” — Patrick McGrath, author of Asylum, Martha Peake, Spider, and others “This rich, allusive, erudite novel is a welcome reminder of what a tour de force really is.” — David Leavitt, author of The Indian Clerk and many others “Levine locates the strange beneath the familiar in this intricately imagined, meticulously executed debut. You may think you know Dr. Jekyll, but this Hyde is a different beast altogether.” — Jon Clinch, author of Finn and The Thief of Auschwitz “Levine has staked his claim to one of the most compelling stories of all time, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and brilliantly made it his own in this knockout debut novel. The mind of Hyde is as dark and twisted and alluring as the night-cloaked streets of nineteenth century London, and this book is as much a fascinating psychological query as it is a gripping narrative.” — Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon, The Wilding, and Refresh, Refresh