In sum, Hyde is a story about a quest. Not the Dungeons and Dragons/sword and sorcery kind. But the type of quest that many people never even embark on: one of self-discovery. The phrase “finding out who you really are” is featured more than once, and it is used well. Not something I come across often when given an erotic horror story to read.
For some readers, a few of the subjects may be off-putting. For me, one of the marks of a good author is how he or she handles writing what can be considered difficult subject matter for the majority of the population. Churchill handles these subjects—kidnapping and voyeurism, to name a few—with a deft pen. (er… keyboard?) But at the conclusion of this story, even the initial feelings you have about Hyde’s actions are turned upside down and inside out.
This is truly an erotic horror, so brace yourself. Once you’ve decided to strap in, Churchill creates an enthralling experience for the reader. His imagery is creative, but not over-worked. He used his words craftily, bringing each character’s emotions to the reader in a vivid bas-relief, making reading Hyde an almost tactile experience. Both fear and sexual pleasure are given equal attention and the writing of each is powerfully effective.
Hyde is also peppered with pictures, shown like stacks of Polaroid photos within the text. I’m pleased to say that each artist is credited with copyright for their work just inside the cover.
One of my favorite terms used in Hyde was “pained satisfaction”. It ties into a neat little bow what most of the characters face. I must admit, I didn’t forsee the ending, as I sometimes do with erotic horror. There’s no way for me to describe it here without giving spoilers, but the finale was a fit ending for this tale and an excellent way to wrap up this quest for self-knowledge.
Hyde reflects its namesake. Disturbing, yet recognizable.