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Monday, June 7, 2010

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Release Date: May 3, 2010
Publisher: Harcourt
Format: ARC
Pages: 288
Description: Amazon
Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents' rules--especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father's office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be the key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.
To improve her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen's sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill's accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything--even Tristen's love--just for the thrill of being...bad.

One phrase stuck with me as I read this book and now I feel like it's the only way I can accurately describe Jekel Loves Hyde to you now. It was deliciously dark.

Rich, sinful and bittersweet, like the most amazing dark chocolate, I was unable to get enough of this book. Every time I thought I had come to a safe stopping point and put the book down to return to my life I found myself haunted by what had come before and thrilled by the prospect of what might happen next.

Beth Fantaskey does a masterful job of blending the best aspects of horror and mystery with a love story that, like all good love stories, seems both fated and doomed from the start. Often overlooked as the overachiever, mousy little Jill Jekel doesn't have much in the way of a social life. Tristen Hyde is handsome, athletic, smart, sports a devil may care attitude and has a British accent to boot. (Who doesn't love a guy with an accent?)

Connected by a famous work of fiction that bears both their names, Jill and Tristen join together to find out if The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is more than just a story. Could the novel actually be based on true events? Is it the root of tragedies in both their lives? Is Tristen's salvation locked away in its pages?

My biggest concern when I started this book was background knowledge. Would I need to reread Stevenson's work in order to fully understand this story? It had been a while after all.

The fear was unfounded. I was hooked in the first chapter. Any background information I needed to follow the story was provided for me, and in clever ways that didn't make me feel as if a piece of the original novel had simply been transplanted for my benefit. The characters have "Eureka!" moments and shared their discoveries with me, giving it all an organic feel.

Fantaskey builds on her characters through the novel, shaping them into people that you might know in your daily life. Well, you probably don't know a chemically-created sociopath or homicidal maniac, but that character is well-developed too and sometimes quite scary.

The only real issue I had was Jill and Tristen's relationship. First, let me say that I adored the love story. It grew slowly and was believable and sweet and sexy. It had moments of high school romance - first kisses and chaperone concerns - and nail-biting  moments that I thought might ruin them or me or all three of us in the process.

But I did tire quickly of the off-again on-again roller coaster ride that Jill and Tristen's relationship goes on. It had nothing to do with the fact that they were, in fact, off-again on-again. After all, that's perfectly understandable when your dealing with death, personal demons and the fact that the good-looking, amazing boyfriend you recently snagged might have a mean streak. But you don't have to lament the death of the relationship or its near demise every time the romance has a rocky moment.

That being said, Jekel Love Hyde was fast read that held my attention every step of the way. It's also a great new twist on the paranormal that fans of the sub-genre should definitely pick up.


  1. Great review, I really enjoyed this one too and Fantaskey is just great, every book of hers has that same magic in it, definitely a keeper!

  2. I just ordered this book and CANNOT wait to read it! With the good reviews and my love of Jessica's Guide, I know it'll definitely be worth the money and the wait!

  3. Glad you liked it! Nicely toned review. Very thorough. :)

  4. I am PLEASED you like it. I have faith that I shall, as I trust your judgment.

  5. I like that description - deliciously dark - I got this one at BEA and am looking forward to reading it! Nice review!

  6. I love your review and your diction, especially in comparing this book to chocolate. Rock on!