Reviewed by Oscar O’Neill-Pugh.
“If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek”.
As I went to start working on my first book review, I found myself looking towards my bookshelf. An old paperback copy of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ stared back and I nodded at it in approval. I opened the newly arrived proof of ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ and started a journey I had no idea I’d needed. In a decade seemingly obsessed with reboots, reunions, remakes and sequels, very few make the return trip worth traveling. What so many of these rehashes fail at delivering is validity. A remake or reboot should feel warranted. Ideally, it would pay homage to the original mythos, engage it in a new and thought provoking way, make it seem perfectly in-line with that property and all the while be well executed. Anthony O’Neill’s ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ excels on all these fronts. It is a journey that needs to be travelled.
Set seven years after ‘disappearance’ of Dr. Henry Jekyll and the death of Edward Hyde, ‘Dr. Jekyll’ & Mr. Seek’ follows Gabriel Utterson – the good doctor’s faithful friend, lawyer and ultimately, confidant. Set to take possession of Jekyll’s estate, Utterson is thrown into disarray when a charming gentleman swoops in, claiming to be none other than Jekyll. Of course, this must be the work of an imposter as both the reader and Utterson know that Jekyll was Hyde. However, himself being Jekyll’s sole confidant, Utterson can only look on in horror as this imposter goes about convincing old friends that Jekyll has returned. When mysterious ‘accidents’ start killing off potential doubters and challengers, Utterson is thrown into a frenzy to prove the truth, while not discrediting Jekyll’s name and memory. The reader follows Utterson as he finds his friends turning against him, begins to fear for his life and ultimately, question his own sanity.
Originally, I aimed to write notes and take the book a few chapters at a time, but O’Neill’s masterful use of paranoia, suspense and mystery made me forget my pen and paper even existed. What was supposed to be the first few chapters soon became a full read through. Once I began, I simply couldn’t stop. Anthony O’Neill creates a wonderful narrative that constantly keeps a reader engaged; doubting, questioning and guessing at every turn. The title, taken from a quote from Utterson in the original, illustrates the story a reader is taken on. Even for those who have limited knowledge of, or haven’t read the original, this is a book for you. Without feeling intrusive, O’Neill perfectly blends in recaps, throwbacks and memories from the original story, aiding a new reader without stepping on the coattails of those familiar. As an avid reader, I can say that Anthony O’Neill has written a marvellous story with a fantastic use of language that makes the novel feel authentic to its time period. As a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original, I can also say that ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek’ serves as a true sequel to the original, and a near perfect one at that. It is well worth your penny dreadful.