Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill
Imagine how he feels on discovering that someone has moved into the doctor’s property, claiming to be Dr Jekyll himself. As the only person who knows the connection between Hyde and Jekyll, how can he convince the authorities, or even his friends, the man’s an impostor? But with a spate of deaths among members of Jekyll’s social circle, he’s convinced he must.
Anthony O’Neill brings an extra layer to Robert Louis Stevenson’s well-known story of the battle between good and evil within ourselves. Alongside the highly contemporary theme of identity theft, the story explores the boundary between fantasy and reality, and the rage that thwarted ambition might induce. It’s a short novel, attractively presented by Black and White Publishing (who supplied my review copy), and a fun read, although I’d have welcomed an extra twist at the end.
My own short story “Doctoring”, about a man discovering his less responsible alter ego, will be included in my anthology, Becoming Someone, scheduled for publication in November this year.
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
But as I rarely travel (through geography or time) except on the page, it was sheer delight to spend a few hours in Shona’s company. The concept (invited by the 200-year-old founder of her alma mater to serve as a kind of goodwill ambassador across the centuries) is so silly it could have misfired, but the author is perfectly in control of her material, with just the right blend of intelligence, comedy and tension. Unusually for me, I found myself several times laughing out loud. As a former pupil of James Gillespie’s High School (the model for the school in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) Olga Wojtas has used her experience to excellent effect. This debut novel, which promises to be part of a series, came to me courtesy of publishers Contraband, I believe my first (and hopefully not my last) from this Salford and Glasgow-based independent press.
What’s your favourite classic sequel? Do share!
For the flash fiction challenge to write a 99-word story that features a balloon, I was going to make do with recycling one from almost four years ago in response to the photo bomb prompt. But then I thought of recycling, and why it matters, and channelled my own version of Miss Blaine:
A blot on the landscape?
My fingers fumble to extricate plastic from heather. Litter louts! I came to walk the moors, not to pick up other people’s mess.
In swoops my long-dead ex-headmistress, academic gown flapping like a raven’s wings. “I’m sending you back in time. We can nip this problem in the bud.”
On Tillotson’s production line, I meet staff grateful for work in lean times. Happy faces at children’s party ensure the failure of my mission. Unless I travel back another century to Faraday. “I know you didn’t mean to, Michael, but you started this. Can’t you invent a fully biodegradable balloon?”