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Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Classics Reimagined Illustrated Edition)
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde book review

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Classics Reimagined Illustrated Edition
Hardcover | Kindle
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Illustrated by Tina Berning
Publisher: Rockport Publishers | Quarto Publishing Group
Release date: July 23, 2019

The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has become so ingrained into our pop culture that one need not have read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to know the tale of these fictional characters. Well, perhaps not the whole tale isn’t known, but rather just the part about Dr. Jekyll’s inner conflict between good and evil that manifests itself, with the aid of chemistry, in the form of the wicked Mr. Hyde. Thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson‘s 1886 Gothic novella and its various on-screen adaptations, Jekyll and Hyde have grown beyond their literary origins to become a reference to any person who’s behavior goes from one extreme to another, typically a split personality where one side is nice and one is mean.

While Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego Mr. Hyde are household names, the Scottish author’s story is not told from either of their perspectives. Rather, the main protagonist is the lawyer Gabriel John Utterson, who recounts the “strange case” of his longtime friend Henry Jekyll, a 50-year-old typically sociable doctor who starts behaving out of character after acquainting himself with the evil Edward Hyde. The lawyer suspects that blackmail might be involved, because there doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason why Jekyll would align himself with such an amoral person like Hyde, who’s such a distasteful presence that he’s never even fully described by the author. Matter of fact, Hyde’s inner wretchedness is so unfathomable that Stevenson refers to him as “indescribable,” thereby leaving it up to the reader to fully create the image in their mind of Jekyll’s tainted other half.

Therefore, it makes sense that the artwork in this illustrated edition does the same. Illustrator Tina Berning‘s watercolors are purposely vague and at times abstract, with lots of London nighttime fog, dark settings, and obscured faces. As with previous entries in Rockport Publishers’ Classics Reimagined Illustrated series, this one contains contemporary artwork, as opposed to the art style that was popular during the novel’s original release. Though not the typical black-and-white line art illustrations popular in Victorian-era novels, Berning’s contributions perfectly capture the chilling atmosphere described in Stevenson’s influential Gothic horror. A bonus is that the Berlin-based artist’s touch appears even on the non-illustrated pages in the form of a bleed at the top or a slash of color across parts of the page.

Bound as a 7.9 x 7.9-inch hardcover, this Classics Reimagined Illustrated edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde spreads the novella out over 208 pages with bleeding page edges that form a design on the right and one quote each on the top and bottom, giving this classic story a new and attractive presentation.

Retold with stunning modern illustration and design from award-winning illustrator Tina Berning, enjoy Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping exploration of the duality of human nature in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The haunting, colorful interpretation of this classic gothic tale follows London lawyer Gabriel John Utterson as he investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.

“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”
–Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Classics Reimagined series is a library of stunning collector’s editions of unabridged classic novels illustrated by contemporary artists from around the world. Each artist offers his or her own unique, visual interpretation of the most well-loved, widely read, and avidly collected literature from renowned authors. From Frankenstein to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and from Jane Austen to Edgar Allan Poe, art lovers and book collectors alike will not be able to resist owning the whole collection.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde book cover

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