Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S Denning – Book Review


Title: 
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone

Author: G.S Denning

Rating: 4/5

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.untitled203_1

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!

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Book Review

Title: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Rating: 5/5

Genres: Whydunnit, Adult Fiction, Crime Fiction, Inverted Detective Novel


“Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”

When people to ask me, an English graduate and self-confessed bibliophile, ‘so what is your favourite book?’, it sends my mind reeling. Do I pick from my childhood loves of Harry Potter, or do I go to my Gothic favourites of Dracula or Wuthering Heights, or do I even bring out the doorstopper of a novel, Gone with the Wind? It honestly is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer. But I do usually narrow it down to a few select books, and have justified reasons for so. And within this, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is always there.

Now known as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and with massive international acclaim, Tartt and her The Secret History is not an unknown book or author, and nor is it one that quietly unappreciated. As a debut novel, and written in 1992, The Secret History had an initial print run of 75,000 copies (which is a big deal, considering the usual print run is 10,000) and it instantly became a best-seller. In her literary life, Tartt has only written three fictional books, yet she has amassed a huge following, and whenever I read her books, I find myself feeling so unbelievably small when you experience the genius way she crafts sentences and plots.

So, through this brilliantly more-ish and highly addictive tale, the reader meets Richard Papen, as he gives the recollections of his time as a freshman in an imposing and highly prestigious college in Vermont. And whilst in this college, Richard quickly falls under the allure of the reclusive and almost other-worldly Classics students, and quickly becomes friends with them all. But as he falls further into the group, and the complexities that they all have, Richard finds himself tangled up in a web of terrifying crime, ancient Grecian traditions, and tragic circumstance which ultimately ends up in the murder of one of the group members by the rest of them.

Labelled as more of a ‘whydunit’ rather than a ‘who’, the novel explores the ideas of increasing anxieties, builds up of tensions, unavoidable circumstances and the panic that comes with guilt. So this novel could happily run with detective fiction anytime, and as it is written in such an excellent way, it really gives the reader the sense of actually being there, committing the crime and reaping the consequences. As the text deals with a very Classics-heavy theme, this novel certainly has elements of a ‘Greek tragedy’ to it. With whole unavoidable circumstances, hamartia, fatal flaws and an overall ‘tragic’ element, the ancient Grecian world does impact on the text. And I, as a once-Classics student, really appreciated it. But this novel can be easily read by any person who is hungry for a satisfying and stimulating read. The novel also would appeal to readers who like the ‘campus’ genre of fiction, as the college that they all attend is beautifully described, and makes you wish you could see Vermont throughout the seasons.

Through her writing, Tartt has really reached down to the subconscious of the human mind and has, therefore, made characters so unique and realistic that you cannot help picturing and drawing from them. With the complex nature of Henry – who is, by far, my most favourite character – Tartt has given him enough depth, personality and mystery to make him a puzzle. And even with Richard, who as the protagonist and newcomer to the group could seem a little flat compared to the rest of the students, he seems realistic, and gives the reader an outsider view on the strange group of students that he becomes friends with.

The novel doesn’t seem to drag, but tease the audience with little tidbits here and there, and makes the ending well-done and highly satisfying. This text works brilliantly as a stand-alone piece of work, and there isn’t necessarily anything else Tartt could have done to make it better. Easily labelled as a modern classic, Tartt is really an author to read and watch out for. I know that I am highly anticipating the next novel.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones
/Amazon