By William Hussey
Published by Oxford
ISBN 978 0192732514
In 1886, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson published a novel that was to become, along with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), one of the three most famous horror stories ever written. It was called The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The book tells the story of a doctor in Victorian England called Henry Jekyll who invents a potion that turns him into a murderous criminal, Edward Hyde. Jekyll and Hyde seem to be two very different people, but are they really two halves of the same person?
In his latest novel for older teens, William Hussey takes Stevenson’s theme of good versus evil, throws in modern concerns like cyber bullying and social media, and comes up with a very modern chiller. Jekyll’s Mirror is a contemporary look at events that can turn a teenager into a monster. It’s a clever reworking – not a retelling – of Stevenson’s original.
Sam Stillhouse is a troubled 17-year-old who has lived with his aunt on a rundown housing estate since his mother died in mysterious but violent circumstances.
The one light in Sam’s life is his school English lessons. When his teacher Ms Crail choses Sam and a handful of classmates to take part in a special project based on Jekyll and Hyde, he jumps at the chance; not only is he good at the subject, this extra-curricular will look good on his university application forms.
The enigmatic Ms Crail explains that a select few will be using “Project Hyde”, a new social networking site where users are expected to speak their true feelings, however dark. The chats and posts won’t even be monitored.
Sam approaches the project with gusto, but he soon begins to have doubts as malicious and aggressive posts take over the site. The more time he spends on it, the more the hate and anger that he has so far managed to control throughout his life begin to seep out. This is not a person Sam recognises. Should he quit before things become too dangerous?
Even the avatar that Sam has chosen to head his page begins to change. There is something powerful and dangerous behind Project Hyde, and as Sam’s mind begins to spiral into chaos, he has to fight to save his true self and the person he wants
Jekyll’s Mirror is a thrilling and thought-provoking read for older teens looking for something that will excite and challenge. Seeing Sam struggle with seeing unknown characteristics in himself raises the legitimate question: do we all have a dark side?
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com