Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: March 1st, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult, Retellings
My Rating: 5 stars
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
I’m sort of into Sherlock Holmes stories, like a lot. I read The Hound of the Baskervilles (or a dumbed down child’s version) in elementary school, and I’ve been in love with mystery novels ever since. I’m a mystery novel enthusiast if you will.
When I first saw this book in the bookstore last year, I read the blurb and thought “Oh cool a modern AU adaptation of a Study in Scarlett with at boarding school and a girl Sherlock, sounds interesting.” This book is not that.
A Study in Scarlett, if you’re curious is the first Sherlock Holmes story. The first episode of BBC’s Sherlock is partly based on it, and there is a season 4 episode of CBS series Elementry also based on that story. It’s the one where the murder victim writes “RACHE” in blood and you’re meant to assume it’s short for Rachel but it’s really a German word. It was a version of that story that I was expecting. I got so much more.
It’s clear from the writing that Cavallaro is a fan of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, she treats the characters that she created partly in their image with respect for the original work. The original Holmes and Watson are mentioned fondly, and although there are parallels between Jamie and Charlotte and their great-great-great grandfathers, they are wholly separate characters.
The story line was excellent. Again, I was expecting the “RACHE” thing, but I got a combo of, like, four different Holmes stories. Some of which I haven’t read, but I’ve seen the corresponding episode of Sherlock or Elementry. I thought that was a very interesting way to bring in the original stories without rewriting them.
I liked that Charlotte had the same vices as Sherlock. Her drug use wasn’t written how I would write it, but I didn’t write the book. I think it could have been done a little differently, but there are two more books in this series, so maybe it will be explored more. As long as it’s not glamorized, I’m good with the way that it’s being shown.
I found Jamie’s expectations of the Holmes family versus who they turned out to be a nice subtle stab at a version of the manic pixie dream girl stereotype. Although there are parts of Charlotte that fall into that category, most of Jamie’s expectations for her broken by Charlotte as the narrative continues.
I also really loved the little bit we got to see of Milo, he has an extreme Mycroft quality that I really enjoy. I hope he’s featured in the next book.
I found myself not trying to figure out who the murder was because I’ve seen and read enough Sherlock Holmes and characters based Sherlock Holmes (like Dr. House) to know that I’m not going to figure it out. Even if you think you know, you’re just guessing not deducting and even if you guess right, it’s not as satisfying as it should be. I did find the outcome extremely satisfying with a decent Holmes like twist.
If I have to say something negative, I found the chapters kind of long, which I know is a weird critique. I read a lot of YA, and usually, the chapters are shorter, max ten to fifteen pages. This book had chapters that were sometimes fifty, which isn’t a bad thing, just not what I was used to. I feel I read faster when the chapters are shorter, but I found myself only wanting to read one chapter, which I guess in the end would equal the same amount of pages.
All and all, I thought this was a great book. It lived up to the name of Holmes, and my rather high standards for mysteries. I look forward to the rest of the series, I think the next book comes out next week!
Until next time Internet,