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Set in 1885 London, My Dear Henry has the gothic feeling down in Kalynn Bayron’s new book. We follow Gabriel Utterson, who wants to grow up and be a lawyer, but his father has a different job in mind for Gabe and has set him off in the same profession as him, a doctor. While in London at Ms. Laurie’s boarding house he meets another young man by the name of Henry Jekyll and the two become fast friends and a little something more. But being black men in the pursuit of a education under the white man’s eye they are continually told that they are lesser than and no more fit to be doctors then to be the ones mules carrying bodies for the “real” doctors.
What I liked about this book was the fact that I felt totally drawn in with the atmosphere of London of the time and I can easily imagine the smells, smog and fog of those London streets. The cloying smell of the formaldehyde filling the air of the less then ideal classrooms. And in true gothic nature, this was slow burn of a tale. There were even some moments when I felt reading from Gabriel’s POV that the book was a wee bit slow. I wish we were able to see the story from Hyde’s POV. I was able to grab the audiobook from my library using the Overdrive app, heard at 1.25x, it was read slowly and I believe it was done this way to give homage to the original story with the gothic, eerie feel. Following along with Gabe as he tries to figure out why the interactions between himself and Hyde had such familiarity was pretty cool, knowing what was bound to happen.
All in all it was an okay book, I like the diverse characters and seeing gay black men find happiness in each other at a time, holding hands, letters of love, it bought joy to my heart. Even if it brought them some heartache. I enjoyed this take on a classic and I would suggest that if you like this and wanted to read an adult gothic slow burn eerie feeling read, try Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia.