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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Pocket Classics)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Pocket Classics)
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic horror classic, 10 Sept. 2010
I recently read this for the first time after reading James Hogg's "Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" as this book drew inspiration from Hogg's classic.
Jekyll and Hyde is a fascinating story of the duality of man, and the dreadful consequences of the evil within us all is indulged. Like "Confessions of a Justified Sinner", "Jekyll and Hyde" presents with more than one narrative viewpoint, building the mystery and suspense in the initial third-person telling, where the reader is presented with the detestable and vicious character of Edward Hyde who seems to have some connection to the respectable and friendly Dr Henry Jekyll. We next get a brief narrative from a trusted friend of Dr Jekyll in which the dreadful secret (at least secret for the books original Victorian readers) of Jekyll and Hyde is revealed. We finally get to witness the personal confession of Jekyll himself explaining the real horror of his plight.
Henry Jekyll is a man of two sides, the civil, honourable and intelligent Doctor and the darker side prone to shameful debauchery. Jekyll, frustrated to despair over these conflicting sides to his nature, creates a potion which will enable him to seperate these two sides into seperate entities, thus enabling him to remain a fine upstanding civil man without suffering the intoxicating allure of debauchery, and Edward Hyde is born.
One misconception I recieved from the popular tales of Jekyll and Hyde was that Hyde is seperate individual living within Jekyll's conciousness (like some kind of split personality). On reading this book, I discovered that Hyde is still Henry Jekyll with a change in appearance that symbolizes the pysical manifistation of Jekyll's more base desires. Its also worth noticing that the potion is less significant than I originally thought. Yes, it can change his appearance into that of Hyde, but it's Jekyll's own desire for remorseless vile enjoyment that continues to bring him back into the guise of Edward Hyde.
One problem I had with this story was that it builds itself upon a massive twist that we, as a modern audience, are already well aware of. As Ian Rankin comments in the introduction to this edition, we will never know the thrill of discovering the secret of Jekyll and Hyde as the books first readers experienced. But like Sophocles did with "Oedipus Rex", Robert Louis Stevenson weaves a compelling tale that allows us to enjoy the story despite knowing the twist.
This edition also includes a superb introduction by Ian Rankin and like his introduction to "Confessions of a Justified Sinner", he shows his love and enthusiasm for the tale in a way thats infectious. I particularly enjoyed his explanation that Robert Louis Stevenson's idea of duality may have originated from the "Old Town" and "New Town" of Edinburgh.
If I've rambled on and effectivley spoiled the story for anyone reading this, then I wholeheartedly apologize, but to wrap this up, Jekyll and Hyde is wonderfully dark cornerstone of Gothic horror literature that should not be missed.

If you enjoy this, then I also recommend these brilliant works of Gothic horror:
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

With Oden On Our Side
With Oden On Our Side
Price: £6.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh wave of brutality from the masters of Norse Metal, 29 Jan. 2010
This review is from: With Oden On Our Side (Audio CD)
Amon Amarth ( named after Mount Doom from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books ) a Melodic Death Metal at heart which uses Viking imagery and themes for their inspiration and lyrics. Therefore, they are classed as Viking Death Metal for obvious reasons. This is their sixth full length album ( not including the original EP ) and possibly their best to date.
The band uses the afformentioned viking imagery to a spectacular effect, illistrating the likes of battle, pilliging and being on a stormy sea voyage. Just take note of some lyrics from "Gods of War Arise" for a shining example: "hear the tortured screams/ shattering the air/ they awake from soothing dreams/ into their worst nightmare/ fire sweeps their homes/ they feel the dragons breath/ agonizing death" Epic stuff.
Amon Amarth have always infused their tracks with both boatloads of agression and thunderous melody. "With Oden On Our Side" is possibly the bands most melodic work, especially with tracks like "Under the Northern Star" and the superb "Runes to my Memory". When most metal bands try to do aggression, they usually end up sounding like a bunch of hormonal teenagers who are angry at their parents. However, the theme of vikings comes inheritly with a ton of power, wrath and sheer brutality. Amon Amarth's melodic aggression gives each track an epic sweeping feel. Listen to the chorus of "Runes to my Memory", the latter half of the epic "Hermod's Ride to Hel" of the chorus of "Under the Northern Star" - we feel like we're there in the fierce winter with the "dark skies above us" and "biting frost in the air".
This album is probably the bands best, with all new classics that hold their own against the mighty "Victorious March" from "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" ( also an awesome album by the way ). It's also a good album to listen to when you're at the gym: you'll be pumped with adrenaline and energy in no time.
All in all, a truly epic album from a truly epic band. Buy it.

Highlights: Runes to my Memory, Hermod's Ride to Hell, Cry of the Black Birds, Under the Northern Star

Lowlights: Valhalla Awaits Me ( not a bad song at all, it just pales in comparison with the rest of the album )

Interview With The Vampire: Number 1 in series (Vampire Chronicles)
Interview With The Vampire: Number 1 in series (Vampire Chronicles)
by Anne Rice
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The first vampire novel to really hold it's own against Dracula, 29 Jan. 2010
I recently read the first seven books in Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" series and now I feel compelled to re-read the first three books ( by far the best ones ) and write reviews for these first three.

So this is the first and by far the best of the series: undoubtedly Rice's magnum opus. It tells the story of Louis, a vampire facing the dark lonely stretch of immortality. The full storyline is put into more detail in other reviews here, so I'll leave it there.
I'm trying not to sound like a rambling fanboy, but this book really is superbly written: it's full of brilliant characterisation, from the brooding Lois forever seeking answers about his dark supernatural exsistance, the cruel possesive Lestat who tries to make a slave out of Louis, and the child vampire Claudia.
A quick word about about that last one. Louis and Lestat are brilliant, but Claudia really steals the show. The most tragic character, she's forever locked within the body of a 5-6 year old girl but has the mind of an intelligent mature woman. She speaks with such authority and even bears a sinister prescence. Claudia has the instincts of a true preadator and you will often get the impression that she is the leader while Louis is more of a follower. She's one of one the best characters I've ever experienced in a novel as she really comes alive on the pages and will most likely remain in your mind long after putting the book down.
Now Purple Prose done wrongly can leave a book with a long winded sickly-sweet taste, but done right it can really bring the book alive in your hands. Anne Rice gets it right. Her sentences pulse with a dark poetic quality and a sensuality I've never seen in another modern writer. A haunting beauty flourishes on every page, creating the perfect atmosphere: black and crisp like a Winter's night, and in a vampire novel thats most definitely a good thing.
The plot unravels like a gothic tradgedy and in fact there is even a parallel with Goethe's Faust with Louis as the hero, hungry for knowledge and Lestat as the mischevious devil Mephistopheles.
"Interview with the Vampire" is a novel that actually holds it's own against Stoker's "Dracula", a feat not easily acomplished as "Dracula" is the pride of Gothic horror literature and one of the most influential novels ever. In many places IWTV may even surpass Dracula with its sumptuous plot, characters and descriptions. The second and third books in the series ( The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned, both of which I'm going to write revies for later ) are also superb, but in my opinion they can't touch this one. Sadly I think the Vampire Chronicles series went downhill after the third book but at least we always have Interview with the Vampire.

If you like this you should also try Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. A vampire novel at heart, but enriched with the author's love of European history.

Killswitch Engage (KsE)
Killswitch Engage (KsE)
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new album from a band on top form, 5 July 2009
This review is from: Killswitch Engage (KsE) (Audio CD)
What we have here is the fifth studio album from Killswitch Engage, the band whose albums "Alive or Just Breathing" and especially "The End of Heartache" brought new waves of popularity to the Metalcore genre.
The album is self-titled as the band apparantly wanted this to be a fresh new start as they would be heading in new directions with their music. But oddly, despite what the band say themselves, this album is really more of the same, but considering the solid stellar standards of their previous efforts, this is no bad thing. What we actually have is the production of a teffific band playing on their strenghths that has gained them so much success so far. The band now place a greater focus on the catchy riffs and powerful melodic and passionite choruses. "Reckoning" and "Starting Over" are the first two singles and are a great example of what to expect from the rest of the tracks. "Light in a Darkened World" is one of the strongest efforts and showcases some awesome guitar work and vocals. "I Would Do Anything" may reming long term KSE fans of the good old Jesse days with its brutal riffs and catchy beat, while the likes of "The Return" and "This is Goodbye" possess passionate and melodic choruses that are as good as any recorded by the band so far.
So to summerize, this is more of the same and if you've never really enjoyed Killswitch's previous albums then there's nothing here that will change your mind. But if you love Killswitch already then prepare for more powerful, passionate, melodic metal from masters of the genre sticking to what they do best, after all if you've got a brilliant succesful formula then why change it?

Devil May Cry 4 (Xbox 360)
Devil May Cry 4 (Xbox 360)
Price: £3.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dante's back to stick it to Satan, 12 April 2008
This is truly my kind of game: An action heavy fantasy adventure thats all about chopping up massive demons with a gigantic sword. It's a thick necked, big-fisted action game thats all about kicking ass and lookin good.
First off, anyone who was afraid that series regular Dante was given the sack for this instalment need not worry, he's playable for almost half the game and even kills demons with a magic suitcase that transforms into a laser cannon. Thats Devil May Cry for you.
However, DMC4 is new guy Nero's story. Luckily Nero is awsome. He swings around a sword that can rev like a motorbike (for fiery attacks) and has a magic demon hand which can be used for powerful slam dunk moves. Nero is a worthy succesor to Dante (not to mention they look the same).
Without a doubt this is one of the best looking games on Xbox 360 to date and the graphical power is really utilized in varied enviroments like gothic castles, jungles and icy mountains.
The only complaint is that Dante's half of the game is basicly backtracking to the begining of the game where Nero began, and involves fighting the same bosses again.
It doesn't matter much. Coupled with a silky smooth fighting system and incredible action rammed cut scenes, Devil May Cry 4 has secured itself as possibly the best hack n' slash adventure to date and will probably remain so until God Of War 3 comes around.

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