The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot
Henry Jekyll was a brilliant doctor, a passionate idealist who aimed to free mankind of selfishness and vice. He’s also the man who carelessly created a race of monsters.
Once shared secretly among the good doctor's inner circle, the Hyde drug was smuggled into mass-production - but in pill form, it corrupted its users at the genetic level, leaving them liable to transform without warning. A quarter of the population are now clandestine killers – ticking bombs that could detonate at any given moment.
It's 1903, and London has been quarantined for thirteen years.
Son of the city's most prominent physician and cure-seeker, seventeen-year-old Elliot Morrissey has had his own devastating brush with science, downing a potion meant to remove his human weaknesses and strengthen him against the Hydes - and finding instead he's become an empath, leveled by the emotions of a dying city.
He finds an unlikely ally in Iris Faye, a waitress at one of the city's rowdier music halls, whose emotions nearly blind him; her fearlessness is a beacon in a city rife with terror. Iris, however, is more than what she seems, and reveals a mission to bring down the establishment that has crippled the people of London.
Together, they aim to discover who's really pulling the strings in Jekyll's wake, and why citizens are waking up in the street infected, with no memory of ever having taken the Hyde drug...
Heart-eating monsters, it turns out, are not the greatest evil they must face.
When I first got an email asking if I wanted to review this, I wasn't totally sold. I'm fascinated by the original Jekyll and Hyde story and this is a bit of a play on it, so I thought this could either be really well done or a complete hot mess. Lucky for us all, this was so great. I really, really enjoyed this. Also in the email it was mentioned that this is the first in the Gold & Gaslight Chronicles and I was pretty sure this was going to leave us on a cliffhanger, but it doesn't! I was pleasantly surprised that the cast of characters we meet in this book will (most likely) have their own stories. So of course I had to do some digging and it looks like book two will follow Philomena to New York City and I am already anxiously awaiting that story as part of this YA historical fantasy series.
What we really need to do is talk about this book though, which was so good. It's only 239 pages and I promise you will fly through it because you will be hooked on page one. The story really begins with Virginia Carroll, who back in 1890, was an aspiring student in pursuit to becoming a doctor. She gets the chance of a lifetime to leave quiet Kansas behind and go to London to study under the prestigious Henry Jekyll. Henry's goal was basically to separate the good and evil from a person to basically create a race of humans who only know compassion. Unfortunately, we all know that didn't work out and what he actually created were a race of creatures known as Hydes. Hydes would transform into ravenous beasts and kill without discretion and their food source was live human hearts. Of course once this gets out of hand, London is then quarantined, the Royal family leaves but they leave Lord Mayor Harlan Branch in charge to handle the situation, look for a cure, and eradicate the population of Hydes.
Fast forward to 1905. Virginia is in hiding but we see that her small daughter Iris is seemingly all grown up. She is tired of being in hiding and wants so desperately to bring down Lord Mayor because she knows what his true desire is: ultimate power. She knows he has no intentions of eradicating the Hyde population because he would then no longer be in power, so she is in pursuit of a way to prove this and have the people of London fight back.
Seemingly out of nowhere, she meets Lord Mayor's son, Cam, and his best friend Elliot. What she doesn't know is that neither of these boys are anything like Lord Mayor, specifically Elliot, who know is an empath and cannot control himself around the feelings of others.
I can't tell you much about what happens after that because it would give away the ending and you would really be angry if I did that. Once long buried truths are revealed, true intentions are visible, and everything is out in the open- woah doggy. It's so great. We have a love story, well two actually, and it's not overwhelming. It doesn't take over the book but it's really what drives the characters forward.
I absolutely loved this book. I am totally all in for the rest of this series, if they are even half as good as The Heartless City, we have winners all around. I cannot say enough about this book. You can buy your own copy of The Heartless City on both Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. I'm not even a fan of historical fantasy usually, but this was so good and I really would recommend it to anyone.