The Dastardly Miss Lizzie
Electric Empire, Book #3
By Viola Carr
Author Website: Violacarr.com
Dr. Eliza Jekyll must turn to her dark side, Miss Lizzie Hyde, to stop a madman 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 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 Eliza’s secret divided self finally driving her 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 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. . . . (Goodreads)
The Dastardly Miss Lizzie is a fitting farewell to the inimitable Dr. Eliza Jekyll and her wayward alter ego Lizzie Hyde.
Viola Carr’s England is a dark, electrified world full of alchemy, sorcery, cyborg enforcers, and fey creatures lurking in the shadows. Queen Victoria has been assassinated, Sir Isaac Newton is imbecile King Edward VII’s regent, and war is seemingly imminent. Eliza still faces the struggles of a woman working in a typically man’s profession and is helping the police find a serial killer dubbed The Slasher. When a group of eminent scientists are one by one meeting ugly fates, Eliza discovers links to her own past and a path of destruction that could end the world as she knows it. If this were not enough, she is also worried about her upcoming marriage to Royal Investigator Remy, afraid that she will lose her identity and independence, all while wondering if Remy has been on the wrong side of the pending war all along. And, Lizzie is becoming harder and harder to control. She “pops out” and inopportune times and has no regard to how her actions will affect Eliza. Lizzie seems intent on squashing Eliza out all together. Finally, Rat King of the London Underworld Eddie Hyde, Eliza/Lizzie’s father, might actually have finally gone completely mad.
There is a lot going on in this third installment in the Electric Empire steampunk fantasy series. At times, too much. It gets off to a slow start, then picks up to an almost feverish pace. I think it is longer than it needs to be. A few details shaved off here and there could have improved the uneven pace. The reappearance of a character thought dead adds a nice touch to the resolution of the story. The identity of The Slasher comes as a complete, and satisfying, surprise. The secret work of the scientists provides a great twist on a classic sci-fi theme (I won’t spoil it here), and its far reaching implications are a bit mind boggling.
Having read all of the books in this trilogy, I have generally liked Eliza. However, here she becomes more and more unpleasant, perhaps weaker and more unfocused. Her flashbacks to a time in her youth that she had forgotten are grizzly and disturbing. Lizzie, always a salty handful, is even more coarse and wild than in the past. Her reckless abandon is almost unfathomable and the perfect allegory for the price of total freedom. The whole tone is darker than the other books so it is very bleak indeed. Remy is absent for most of the book, and I missed him. Though at times coming across as a little too perfect, despite his lycanthrope issue, he and Eliza make a good pair facing their inner monsters together. There were some tense moments when I, like Eliza, questioned his motives and loyalty. Other recurring and new characters bare some of their own secrets, and they are not at all pretty. In contrast, some “evil” characters show that no one is entirely good or evil.
I enjoyed The Dastardly Miss Lizzie and recommend it to fans of the Electric Empire series and the steampunk fantasy genre. Since the build off of each other, I do suggest reading them in order.