Title: Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone
Author: G.S Denning
Genre: Alternative History, Fantasy, Mystery, Detective Fiction, Retelling, Supernatural
When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, there have been dozens of reimaginings and retellings of the famous figure. Whether it be young Holmes, modern day Holmes, American Holmes or Robert Downey Jr Holmes, we’ve seen Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters been changed and rejigged for different audiences.
So when I was sent Warlock Holmes for review, I wasn’t surprised that another author had given our favourite consulting detective a new story and a new life. But what I was surprised about was how much I enjoyed this crossover.
In the original stories, Sherlock Holmes was a genius whose deductive skills were unparrelled and his mind was virtually unchallenged by regular people. Warlock Holmes, on the other hand, is an idiot. A good man, yes. A font of archane and witchy powers, who communicates with demons, devils and otherwordly creatures, yes. Yet his deducing skills rival that of a knat. So when he meets and subsequently befriends the brilliant Doctor Watson, they make an unlikely but excellent duo. And with the help of the nilistic vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade and actual ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson, Holmes and Watson go through a delightfully ‘weird’ version of London and solve mysteries.
This book reimagines six of Sherlock Holmes most popular cases (excluding Baskerville) and puts the occult spin on each one. And through each one, the writing is easy, fluid and comedic. Denning sticks to the original stories quite well, which gives the stories a good standing to fall back on. And with the addition of fantastical creatures, it just adds more to the text, rather than take anything away.
Throughout the text, Denning has swapped the dynamic between Holmes and Watson, yet it doesn’t lessen the relationship between the two men. I actually love the more idiotic and dim Holmes, as he does excel in the occult-ish sense, but lets Watson take the lead. The author also has put a fair bit of slapstick and quite silly comedy throughout, but as this wasn’t meant to be a serious retelling of the Sherlock Holmes saga, I felt like it didn’t make it feel too childish.
As a whole, the book is easy to read and very enjoyable for Sherlock Holmes fans. With Moriarty cropping up as a malevolent spirit who possess Warlock on occassion, and then coming to quite a dramatic ending, I actually found myself eager for the next book. Denning has left it with a marvellous cliffhanger, and to be honest, has written such a good retelling, it almost makes it feel believable.
All in all, a funny and lighthearted retelling of Conan Doyle’s stories, and a must-read for fans.
Warlock Holmes is out on the 27th May 2016 – Pre-order it here!