Robert Louis Stevenson: Jekyll & Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
(classic, suspense)

The story of Jekyll and Hyde has grown beyond the pages of the book, and there are few people who don’t understand the reference—even if they haven’t read the book. Even knowing the approximate thread of the mystery before I ever started the book, however, didn’t stop me from enjoying it.

The story follows a lawyer who, concerned over his friend Henry Jekyll’s strange will and behavior, begins investigations that lead to a meeting with Mr. Hyde, a small, unpleasant man who stands to inherit all of Jekyll’s possessions. The mystery deepens with a murder, Jekyll’s self-imposed house-arrest, and a couple of sealed envelopes, until at last we arrive at the door to Jekyll’s chambers…

Like I said, even knowing the answer to the mystery didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. It was well written, and a good example of the often forgotten set of Victorian Horror. Jekyll & Hyde fits in among other classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Fall of the House of Usher. They don’t fit our current description of horror, but they are especially worrisome when read in the context of their times. Perhaps this classic horror is even more frightening than modern horror—instead of looking to physical ruin and destruction, they look inside to spiritual ruin. They certainly leave even the modern reader with a lot of food for thought.


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