Release Date ~ April 10, 2012
Roaring Brook Press ~ Macmillan
ARC received for review from Raincoast Books
It's 1870, and a young woman named Odile is fighting to survive on the blood-soaked streets of Paris. Luckily, Odile has an advantage and a bizarre birthright. She is descended from the Cagots, a much-despised race whose women were reputed to be witches. Were they, in fact? This is the question Odile must answer--about her ancestors and herself--while she uses her talents to help a young Doctor Jekyll who seems to be abusing the salts that she gave him in a most disconcerting way.
When I first came across this book, I was surprised that there weren't very many people talking about it or who even seemed to know about it. This just seems to be one of those YA books that flew under the radar for most people
Strange Case is an interesting blend of a retelling and historical fiction, going back to explain the story behind Dr. Jekyll's transformation into Mr. Hyde by introducing another character, Odile, set in Paris in the 1870s, which was a very difficult time for Paris.
- A book with ambiance:
I was really impressed with how well James Reese was able to set the atmosphere for his book with his writing. Odile has such a distinctive voice as a narrator, and the setting he uses for Strange Case in 1870s Paris is richly described and the pages give off the right sense of desperation.
- An interesting spin on a familiar story:
I'll admit right now that I haven't read Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I can say that my interest in it has been piqued since reading James' Strange Case. I thought the backstory he provided to the transformation potion, as well as Odile's past and being Cagot was an intriguing and great way to add some backstory to this familiar tale.
But more importantly, I wasn't impressed with Dr. Jekyll as a character at all in this story. There didn't seem to be enough of a contrast between Dr. Jekyll and his evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde, and Dr. Jekyll just came across as being slightly less evil, but still a terrible person in a more sublte way. And that just didn't seem to fit the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because they really didn't balance each other out in any way in this retelling. So while I thought that it was a great way to answer some questions that the original story leaves unanswered, I don't think it did Dr. Jekyll justice at all.
Yet I still found it an enjoyable read, and something vastly different from most books I've been reading lately so it was a nice break from those, and I enjoyed reading it althought I don't think I'll be rereading this one.