The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mademoiselle Odile

James Reese, Author
James Reese. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-59643-684-8
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-6189-9
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-1-250-01677-5
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In this macabre prequel, adult author Reese (The Dracula Dossier), in his first book for teens, reveals a previously undocumented tale of Robert Louis Stevenson's infamous antihero. It's the 1871 siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and dwindling supplies have led to lean times in the city. Odile is a young witch and healer, experimenting with the recipes her mother left her in the hopes of curing her ailing brother, Gréluchon. After a chance meeting with Dr. Henry Jekyll, Odile and her brother come to stay with the eccentric scholar, while Odile seeks to perfect her skills. But when Gréluchon downs the wrong potion, he undergoes a bizarre transformation, before disappearing. Having spied upon his houseguests, Jekyll is thus set on the fateful course that will create Mr. Henry Hyde, and only Odile can save them. Reese's layered prose and dialogue are evocative of the era without feeling dated, and the Paris he creates is both claustrophobic and labyrinthine. This story fits right into the novella's original mythos, as long as you don't mind the idea of Jekyll stealing his inspiration from a French teenage girl. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
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