Robert Masello’s ‘The Jekyll Revelation’ Puts A Modern Twist on a Gothic Classic [REVIEW]
November 8, 2016 3 Comments
Good stories linger with us as readers, burrowing under our skin, tickling our imaginations long after the last page is turned. Ever since Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published in 1886 and Jack the Ripper’s horrific Whitechapel Murders were publicized in the press in 1888, both tales have haunted us ever since. But what if the stories were linked somehow? And if they were, where is the line between fact and fiction drawn? Author Robert Masello brilliantly blends the two tales to create the unforgettable, terrifying novel, The Jekyll Revelation.
Here we are introduced to the book’s two protagonists, a present-day environmental scientist named Rafael Salazar and the author Robert Louis Stevenson himself, who we follow in the pages of his very own journal beginning in 1881. Although seemingly disparate in time and place, the parallel lines of their lives cross when Salazar finds an old steamer trunk buried in the muck, discovered only because Southern California’s persistent drought has caused waters to recede.
Inside the trunk, Salazar finds Stevenson’s journal, filled with ominous details about his timeless book about the duality of man, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But what is perhaps most intriguing about the journal is that it promises to reveal the true identity of Jack the Ripper.
The trunk is also the reliquary of other secrets best forgotten, including the remnants of the very potion that inspired Stevenson’s story and created London’s most notorious killer. But now the flask is missing, plucked up by the wrong hands, and now all of Los Angeles is in peril.
This is the kind of meaty story I absolutely devour. Not only is it a love letter to classic literature, but it is just as intriguing as the original novella. Also, the cast of characters is led by two people who are both heroic and sympathetic, men who are relevant and intuitive, and yet who have a front row seat to terrible atrocities. The secondary characters are just as captivating too, from Salazar’s ethereal neighbor and landlord, Miranda, to Stevenson’s faithful and determined wife, Fanny. All in all, they are people we are pleased to know, and they help create a very engaging read.
Masello also does a beautiful job using his settings to lure us deeper into the story, deftly capturing the arid West Coast as easily as he does the Alpine slope to the town of Davos, Switzerland, where Stevenson goes to convalesce. Despite the beauty of each locale, he expertly utilizes elements from Gothic literature, adding layers of suspense like a subtle fog that gradually overwhelms his characters (as well as his readers) before any of us really catch on to what he is doing.
Perhaps that is what makes The Jekyll Revelation such a delicious read. Historically accurate and thoroughly satisfying, it sparkles with adventure, deception, and just enough terror that it keeps us turning the pages, determined to see the action through to the very end, helpless in the hands of a master writer at the top of his game. If you love books that transport you, make you think, and yet ultimately entertain, you can’t go wrong with Robert Masello’s The Jekyll Revelation. I think it is safe to bet that even Stevenson himself would have been enamored by this smart twist on his classic story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, television writer, and bestselling author of both novels and nonfiction books. His novels have been published in more than a dozen languages and include The Jekyll Revelation, The Einstein Prophecy, The Romanov Cross, The Medusa Amulet, and Blood and Ice. His guide to composition, Robert’s Rules of Writing, has been adopted in many college classrooms.
As a journalist, Masello’s work has been featured in New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Washington Post, Town and Country, Travel + Leisure, TV Guide, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Elle, People, Parade, and The Wilson Quarterly. He has also appeared on television and radio programs such as the “Today Show” on NBC, “Good Morning America” on ABC, and many other nationally syndicated programs.
A native of Evanston, Illinois, Masello studied at Princeton University and served as visiting lecturer in literature at Claremont McKenna College between 2002 and 2008. He has also lectured at UCLA, NYU, Columbia University, and at his alma mater, as well as at many other esteemed universities and colleges. He currently makes his home in Santa Monica, Calif. Visit his home on the Web at RobertMasello.com, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.