I first read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson in June 2018, though I’m just now writing up the review for it… oops.
This is an enjoyable collection of short stories, though the best and most memorable one is without a doubt the titular “Jekyll and Hyde.” In this short novella — only about 90 pages long — we see the story of how Dr. Jekyll was brought to ruin by his dealings with science. The structure of this story was different than what I expected: we do not actually see Jekyll/Hyde in person until toward the end. The rest of the story follows the narrator, Mr. Utterson, as he witnesses some strange events — perpetrated by guess who — from afar and is baffled by them. These teases to what is really going on were spooky and compelling, with the figure of Hyde constantly looming as a mystery and a threat. However, none of the revelations were a spoiler for me, having known who Hyde really is all along simply from… well, living. He’s such a prominent figure in our minds, like Frankenstein or Dracula, so “finding out” he and Jekyll are one and the same was anti-climatic to me. I wish I could have read this when it was first published, or that I could have erased my foreknowledge of this story before opening it. Still, getting to read Jekyll’s own written account of what happened — a section of the story that comes, oddly enough, after the plot has ended and Jekyll has died — is the best part of the story. Hearing his struggles and fears, his attempts to control this dark side of himself, was fascinating and compelling in the way the best horror stories are. His eventual surrender to Hyde was both tragic and frightening. Overall, this was an excellent little story, and it is clear why it can capture people’s imaginations both back then and now.
The other stories in this collection were entertaining enough, but not very memorable to me. “A Lodging for the Night” and “The Body-Snatcher” were a bit dark and Halloween-esque, but still did not measure up to “Jekyll and Hyde,” which as I have said easily stole the show. One of the stories, “Thrawn Janet,” I only got a page or so into it, because the majority of this short little tale is written entirely in a Scottish dialect. And yes, that includes altered spellings and colloquialisms from back then in that region. Now, I enjoy Scottish accents as much as the next David Tennant fan, but this story was unfortunately unreadable. I could tell what some of the words were, but the Victorian slang meant I did not know what was actually being said. I would have needed to look up at least half of the words. So I cut my losses and moved on.
All in all, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories is a good book. But if you’re short on time, just read the famous one. I doubt you’ll lose much by skipping the others. (No offense, Stevenson.)
Overall rating: 7/10
Hope you liked this review! If you did, leave a comment and let me know what your favorite horror story is, either old or modern!