Book review:  Robert Masello – The Jekyll Revelation

Book review: Robert Masello – The Jekyll Revelation

The Jekyll Revelation is a satisfactorily exciting and dark story, another excellent novel from the laboratory of Robert Masello.

In general, I willingly write longer book reviews but sometimes, and not only to avoid spoilers, I prefer a shorter, attention-grabbing review. Masello’s novel speaks for itself, you’d better read it. I’m not able to make wonders, the author of this book has done it for me. I’m already captivated by the writer for sure. I’ve read all three of his books issued in Hungarian. All three are among my favourites, which says it all. The latest story is fantastic again.

Its appearance looked like an exciting undertaking for several reasons. Robert Louis Stevenson’s life, which I’ve read about in another biography, was exciting enough in itself. I noted his name already in my early years and as a tween, his Treasure Island was one of my most favourite, most definitive books. I could read background information about it here as well.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is perhaps Stevenson’s most widely known works. It is this novella, too, that Masello’s book is built on. The fact that Stevenson is one of the book’s main protagonists only adds to the excitement of this cunning tale. Masello superbly merges the real story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s life with the made-up tale.

The story follows Masello’s familiar pattern as the plot of the mysterious thriller unfolds along two parallel threads in time. It is amazing how skilfully the writer merges those threads into one story.

The novel begins today, in the Topanga Canyon in California. Then it takes a huge jump to go on in 1881. Stevenson is having his lung disease in Davos, among the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. The clinic is an old mansion, where an experimental therapy is applied to the writer. It harks back to the Jekyll laboratory in many ways. Its famous owner, Dr. Rüedi, performs odd and very dangerous experiments there. The novel teems with realistic characters.

In these chapters the reader is presented with real biographical information, then can witness the birth of the great work. The literary additions and biographical facts add a lot to the story. In the beginning I was more captivated by the atmosphere of Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. This part of the novel was an interesting kind of time travel.

“Robert Louis Stevenson’s legacy reveals dreadful secrets: Jack the Ripper’s identity and a secret elixir. One who drinks it, will gain possession of a magic power…”

The events in the Topanga Canyon near Los Angeles develop a lot more slowly. Here our hero is Rafael Salazar. After a while the author has intensified the excitement, the mystery thickens so much that I was devouring the pages. Short chapters succeed each other; the plot is easy and good to read.

It is here that, besides other things, Robert Louis Stevenson’s secret diary is found in an old steamer trunk. With that, an exciting adventure begins, leading to a surprising finish. Masello skilfully does everything to deceive his readers.

The book follows the story of Jekyll and Hyde very well.

After staging the work, all hell breaks loose in London. Jack the Ripper, who is a strong character in the story, makes his entrance, although he hardly ever appears in person. As the number of Jack the Ripper’s victims keeps growing, so does the mystery keep deepening. All methods of creating suspense are effectively used.

The splendid description of the age, the portrait of the legendary murderer, the misty cityscape of contemporary London, the narrow and dark alleys, the gradually overwhelming frenzy, the fear and the characteristics of its effect on people are portrayed perfectly in the story. The reader is also provided with a picture of the investigation, which, together with the mysterious murders, fills the novel with a dense sense of mystery. Is there a real connection between the serial killer, Jack, and the author?

It’s an exciting point of interest that even Stevenson himself and the actor playing Jekyll were also among the suspects. Reality and adventure, secrets and dark mystery provide the most enjoyable moments of the novel. The absolutely entertaining and thought-provoking plot is crossed by real history and elements of horror.

 The solution is a real cliffhanger built up brilliantly by the writer. It’s also worth your while to leave some time for reading the author’s notes at the end.

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