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Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr (2015, steampunk fantasy)

Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr (2015, steampunk fantasy)Author: Viola Carr
Title: The Diabolical Miss Hyde
Series: Electric Empire #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 464
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Genres: Steampunk

Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous HenryIn an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .
Format: Paperback
Also by this author: The Devious Dr. Jeckyll
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THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is the first book in the Electric Empire series by Viola Carr.

  • Point of view: 3rd person for Eliza, 1st person for Lizzie
  • Tense: Past
  • Setting: Alternate history, 19th century London
  • Sexual Content: One sex scene, tastefully written
  • Pet Peeves: none


Brief Summary of the Plot

Eliza Jeckyll, daughter of the infamous Dr. Jeckyll, is a doctor who assists with criminal investigations. She keeps her dark side, Lizzie Hyde, a secret from everyone, especially an organization (the Royal Society) that is meant to search and destroy magic users. When the Royal Society sends an investigator to assist with a case she happens to be working on, she fears the investigator will discover her secret. Meanwhile, she has to deal with Lizzie, who may have murdered someone.

My Thoughts about…

  • Characters

I really enjoyed the contrast between Eliza and Lizzie. Each had her own voice, despite sharing a body (albeit one that changes in appearance). I don’t normally like switching back and forth between first and third person point of view, but it worked well in this book because it helped separate Eliza from Lizzie. Also, it made sense because Eliza is more professional and distant, which seemed to fit the third person narration, whereas Lizzie is more emotional, fitting the closer first person perspective.

I also enjoyed the irony about Captain Lafayette. He’s the one Eliza fears will discover her secret, yet he is hiding a secret of his own.

Eliza has a robot who is a cross between a pet and an assistant. Although he is entertaining, I didn’t quite understand how he could exist in her world. He is intelligent and can speak, but the world does not have computer technology. There is no explanation given for how it is possible or how he was created, which is strange because he seems to be unique to Lizzie who is not an inventor. I thought maybe he is powered by magic, but considering magic is outlawed, I think that is an unlikely explanation.

  • Romance

There is a small amount of romance in this book. It isn’t developed enough to make me say that there is a romantic element to the story. It’s just a tiny side plot. So, I don’t have much to say about it, other than I hope to see the relationship between Eliza (or Lizzie) and Lafayette grow in future novels.

  • Pacing

The story moves along at a swift pace. I was never bored. The author kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

  • Suspense & Mystery

There is quite a bit of mystery in this book, which makes sense because it is about a serial killer investigation. However, I was surprised by the degree to which Eliza was able to insert herself into the investigation, considering she wasn’t an actual investigator; she was just a medical examiner.

  • Worldbuilding & Setting Details

The world is built to a sufficient degree for a Steampunk feeling. For example, the horse-drawn carriages are assisted by steam power. There are clockwork devices and her robot is clockwork (still doesn’t explain how he can speak and understand language, though!).

I was able to see everything clearly because the author gave sufficient setting details.

  • Prose

In my opinion, the prose was the best aspect of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE. I loved the imagery. Carr came up with wonderful similes and metaphors. I got the feeling that every word was chosen with care to convey the details without being verbose or flowery.

  • Plotting & Consistency

Everything made sense in the big picture. I didn’t notice any holes or inconsistencies.

Hooked or Not?

If you haven’t read THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE, I strongly recommend it. I am hooked on this series. I loved the author’s writing style, creativity, and attention to detail. It was an excellent twist on an old story. I think it would make a great movie. I would suggest this to readers who like alternate history, Steampunk, and the paranormal mixed together. I do have to warn you, though, that this book isn’t for squeamish readers. The serial killer is vicious, and the crime scene details are gruesome.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I give THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE five out of five stars for skillfully written prose, fast pacing, entertaining characters, and a well-executed plot.

Related Discussion Question

Eliza broke gender conventions of her time by being a doctor. If you could go back in time to the 19th century (assume you are a woman if you are not), what would you do if someone told you that you couldn’t do a certain job because you were of the fairer sex?


About Viola Carr

Viola Carr was born in a strange and distant land, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat.


Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

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