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Review by Riley

About The Dastardly Miss Lizzie

Dr. Eliza Jekyll must turn to her dark side, Miss Lizzie Hyde, to stop a madman who’s targeting London’s most important scientists and sorcerers, terrorizing the city with dark magic, in this third Electric Empire novel—a dazzlingly original steampunk fantasy set in the gritty world of alternate Victorian London, with echoes of H. G. Wells’s classic, The Time Machine.

Being two people in one body isn’t easy. Metropolitan Police crime scene physician Eliza Jekyll is trying to maintain a semblance of control, even as her rebellious second self, Lizzie, grows increasingly wild—threatening the respectable Eliza’s reputation and her marriage to Remy Lafayette, the Royal Society investigator and occasional lycanthrope. With England on the brink of war, Remy’s away in sorcery-riddled Paris on a secretive mission that grows ever more sinister. Has he been an enemy agent all along? Or is coping with her secret divided self finally driving Eliza mad?

Eliza needs her mind clear and sharp if she’s to catch an evil genius who is killing eminent scientists. The chase uncovers a murky world of forbidden books, secret laboratories, and a cabal of fanatical inventors whose work could change the world—or destroy it—and who may hold answers to Eliza’s mysterious past.

As sorcery-wielding terrorists attack London, Eliza discovers her own enemies are closing in, driving her to desperate measures—enlisting the aid of the wily, resourceful, mercurial Lizzie—to thwart the killer. But Lizzie’s got her own life now, and true to her nature, will resort to the devious and diabolical to keep it. Even if it means throwing Eliza to the wolves, and letting the world burn…..

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Review of The Dastardly Miss Lizzie

Two people, two personalities, two body shapes. But just one allotted space on earth. That’s the background you need to know. Way more than split personality, these characters, Dr. Eliza Jekyll and Miss Lizzie Hyde, have the misfortune of sharing the exact same space. Share is all they can do. They have an arrangement, albeit an imperfect arrangement.  But imperfect is part of the fun.

The story takes place in London, half on the cheery middle class side of town, but also half on the darker, seedier side of town. The juxtaposition of these settings can be jolting, though I mean that in a positive way. It draws attention to the polar personalities of Eliza and Lizzie.

Lizzie’s favorite neighborhood is dark, gritty and populated with the ultra-poor, rejects, criminals, and not a few oddities that may or may not be human. Both crime and passion are rampant there, so I would expect much of the action to take place there. And it does.

Eliza’s middle class neighborhood is calm. And it is mostly safe. But murder is not class-conscious and Eliza is called to investigate a murder that turns into a grizzly and convoluted case. I mean Grizzly with a capital ‘G’. Ms. Carr’s murderers have quite the imagination! And, as usual, Eliza seems to be working on more than one mystery at a time with her friend and partner, Inspector Harley Griffin. They work the cases, while Eliza’s nemesis Chief Inspector Reeve, continually gets in the way. Reeve is such a great character to boo at!

Like books 1 and 2, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie has rather the intricate plot. Multiple murders, suspects galore and complex characters. Lizzie’s friend Johnny and Eliza’s beau Lafayette are part of the continuing cast of characters and both add to the romance aspect of the story, but also play their own roles in the big climactic finish.

Yes, there is a big finish. This plot far surpasses the solving of a serial murder mystery and becomes extraordinary. We are talking a magnificent, physics-defying, beyond-time, character-defining dénouement. Clues leading up to the finish are found all along the way, though I don’t think I could possibly have guessed who the baddie was and what they would do. Let’s just say it is a satisfying, steampunkish ending to an amazing series.

The relationship between Eliza and Lizzie is, by far, my favorite part of these stories. It adds both suspense and humor. The manifestation of Lizzie when Eliza is in control is a delightful complication to the relationship between these two. Their constant battle to either hate each other or support each other itches to be resolved. The writing, clearly depicting these two personalities is so cool, with the different voices and dialects. By the way, if you happen to enjoy audiobooks, narrator Beverly A. Crick is a genius with these voices and the first time I heard her read a scene where Eliza shifted to Lizzie, I got chills.

I would like to say that The Dastardly Miss Lizzie can be read as a stand alone, but I believe the experience would be immensely enhanced by reading the books in order. Otherwise, you might be likely to quote Eliza’s clockwork assistant Hippocrates: “Does not compute.” You will better understand the relationships and also Eliza’s and Lizzie’s background.

It is impossible for me to review The Dastardly Miss Lizzie without referring to the entire Electric Empire series. I immersed myself in the series this summer, re-reading book one and following it up with book 2 and book 3. This series is dark and light, gritty and fantastic, creepy and funny, disastrous and hopeful. It has romance, mystery and a quite a bit of steampunkiness throughout. I love this series!

Review copy provided by Edelweis.

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