Hyde by Craig Russell

Posted On 1 July 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Clever reimagining of a classic


I read and enjoyed the Devil’s Aspect by Craig Russell just over a couple of years ago, it was a creepy gothic horror story and so when I saw that Russell had written another gothic horror, this time set in Victorian Edinburgh I simply couldn’t resist, and, to be honest, I think I enjoyed this one even more.

This is a very clever story.  It isn’t a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which is what I was expecting somehow, but it uses the influence of duality, which is the premise of the original classic and spins it into a very dark tale incorporating so much more.  On top of this readers will be familiar with at least a couple of the characters and the interesting ideas, combined with celtic folklore, a gothic setting and a murder mystery all combine to make a really good read.

The pov character is one Captain Edward Hyde.  He’s recently returned from serving in India and is now under the employ of The City of Edinburgh Police.  As the story kicks off we’re immediately thrown into a grisly murder scene where the victim appears to have been thrice murdered.  Hyde doesn’t immediately connect this murder with ancient rituals, he’s a bit pre-occupied given that he cannot remember why he was in fact so close to the crime scene himself.  Hyde suffers from a form of epilepsy that leaves him unable to remember things and to lose time completely.  He begins to worry about being so close to the site where the victim was found.  Is he committing dark deeds when he loses control?  Now on top of this there are a series of strange things happening in the City.  A heiress goes missing, a man is executed for a crime that he is believed innocent, banshees cry, another murder victim is discovered and events point to the resurrection of a strange Dark Guild.  To be honest I’m not going to elaborate further on the plot because there are a number of threads taking place in this one.  Don’t let that worry you as everything comes together really well as events unfold and the tension is ramped up.

What I really liked about this was the central character.  He’s a character that I could sympathise with in that he genuinely didn’t know if he was committing dark crimes.  Hyde is being treated for his epilepsy by his friend Dr Samuel Porteus.  What he is unaware of – although he does start to suspect – is that Porteus is experimenting with the treatments he provides, keen to make a breakthrough he is using Hyde as his own personal experiment. Of course Porteus reassures Hyde that he isn’t capable of such heinous crimes but reading from Hyde’s pov you’re very conscious of his own doubts and concerns and the trouble he has to expend to keep his secret close to his chest.

I think the gothic setting is excellently portrayed and there’s a creeping pervasiveness to the story that leaves your neck feeling prickly – that feeling as though you’re being watched.  I actually picked up the audio version for this one and part read/part listened to this and the audio is so good – and definitely added to the chill factor.

Russell is certainly an author that can write horror.  He has a wonderful ability to conjure up malicious and evil characters and his scenes are just excellently portrayed.  I mean, he doesn’t go overboard with either descriptions or background information but seems to have the ability to make each word really count.

On top of this I think, and I did mention this above, that this is very clever.  We have Hyde of course, working to try and discover the source of evil whilst at the same time not entirely trusting that he isn’t hiding something himself (or should that be Hyding? – sorry).  Hyde is definitely a likeable character, even at the same time that you start to have doubts you can’t help wanting everything to resolve well for him and there’s also a brilliant case of misdirection here which I simply have to applaud.

I don’t think I can say too much without sinking into the world of spoilers.  I really enjoyed this.  I think the only criticism I could level at it would be a slight busyness of plot but the threads all do tie up in the end.  For me, I liked the use of Hyde as a detective, I liked the inclusion of the author of the classic story and I thought there was plenty of food for thought, not only in terms of duality but the inclusion of other real life characters such as Deacon Brodie who apparently Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about in his earlier life.  I was so fascinated by this and the way Brodie’s dual lifestyle was possibly the inspiration for the classic we know today.

I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars


11 Responses to “Hyde by Craig Russell”

  1. mrbooks15

    Great review. I loved this one as well–for me the mind games (that the characters’ own minds played) were creepier than even the murders. I agree on the evil characters, though–very well done.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Some chilly gothic horror sounds like the perfect recipe for this hot summer: nothing like some well-crafted scare to send shivers down one’s spine! 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, yes, we dont tend to think of horror and summer going together but I enjoyed reading this one – maybe the lighter nights kept me from being too scared.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I really need to try this author, this sounds like my kind of book😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m enjoying his work – the Devil Aspect was also very good.
      Lynn 😀

  4. pagesandtea

    Gothic horror, this sounds like a potential addition to an Autumn TBR list 😊

    • @lynnsbooks

      Definitely gothic horror, and a great setting. I enjoyed this one because of how clever it is, the references to the classic, the characters and the twist. I think some readers preferred his previous book The Devil’s Aspect (which was also good) but I liked this because of the Jekyll and Hyde touches.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’m hoping to snag an audio review copy of his later this year when it comes out in the US, so I’m glad to hear you loved this. I liked his previous book too, so that’s promising 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a little different but I really liked this – difficult almost to choose between the two
      Lynn 😀

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