ARC from HarperCollins
The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John 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 enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.
Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
Confession time, here's what I got:
I've probably read more fanfiction than I've read books.
Also, I've begun to start every book with a feeling of dread and indifference. I kind of expect the worst, nowdays, you know? Easier to recover from being disappointed that way.
However, and this is a big however, I've also been happily surprised by a few books recently.
Namely, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro. A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE was one of my most anticipated release of 2016. And as you can imagine, that worried me. My little Sherlockian heart couldn't take it if this book turned out to be anything less than amazing.
Especially since I've read so many Sherlock fanfictions that were incredible that any pastiche or adaptation might pale in comparison. And I think it's safe to say that a STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is a type of adaptation, one where the characters exist in a world where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are real. Where their great great great grandchildren go to boarding school together and are framed for murder.
AND WHAT FOLLOWS? Nothing but pure amazing peanut butter and jelly goodness.
Just sweet and nutty and soft. And this book was sweet, a little nutty and perfect.
Did I take the metaphor too far? Nope? Aw, thanks!
Anyway, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are a bit like peanut butter and jelly. The greatest combination. One smooth like a con artist and the other sweet. And they go together like well, peanut butter and jelly, of course!
Now, I'll let the metaphor go now to tell you all the many and varied things that I loved about this book.
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This book doesn't mess around. Charlotte Holmes is unrepentant and sassy, with a resting bitch face that may actually rival her great-great-whatever Grandfather's.
She's been exiled to America to a boarding school that she's probably too good for and definitely is not a hero in anyone's story--especially Jamie Watson.
James Watson grew up hearing the stories of his Holmesian age-mate. He dreamed of sleuthing with her, jumping from rail car to rail car as they track down a suspect on the train, chasing a lead down the back alleys of London--all the things their descendants did together.
But Holmes is determined to not live in the legacy of Sherlock and doesn't want or need to make friends with Jamie--even if he is a Watson.
It isn't until that they're framed for murder that the two realize that whether they like it (in Jamie's case) or not (Holmes' case), they may need to rely on each other and do some sleuthing after all.
Holmes is also a drug addict, though perhaps she wouldn't see herself as such. The book does not shy away from this or play around with it. Just like Holmes, it's unforgiving in that way. Holmes struggles. She's not a mini Sherlock and she's not a Mary Sue. Her flaws are real and deep.
Jamie too has his own set of flaws, although, honestly, I don't remember enough to comment. That probably makes me a bad reviewer and all that but I remember enough to admit that he was no Gary Stu either. Each characters felt as real as if I met them in high school--not boarding school because I didn't go to one-- but you get the point, I think?
If not, the point is that there was nothing cut out or taken away from this story to make it more palatable or easier to market as a YA. Holmes was as abrasive as she should be, as we could imagine her to be. It made the book all the better, knowing that it felt genuine.
I found the book positively cinematic. (I also listened to it alongside Hans Zimmer's SHERLOCK HOLMES score, so, that probably had a lot to do with it).
I'm not really one for mystery--even if I love most of the Sherlockian adaptations out right now--but I am one for character development and a lot of drama,
From the first scene, I realized how easily I could see this all play out. I was hooked from the beginning. They better adapt this for the screen. And fast.
Holmes and Watson
Duuude. Dude. These characters are so well written. They are Holmes and Watson without being Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The character development too just rocked. The progression of the characters didn't feel fictional. Holmes was a robot and then she was a cyborg and then she was human. Jamie was a sidekick and then a friend and then a hero.
I would give examples but that would just give it away. I really just love how they chipped away at each other and became the best versions of themselves. And that should be one of the many things that convince you to read it.
SO MANY SHERLOCKIAN EASTER EGGS.
I'm pretty sure quotes were lifted from the old stories. I was giddy when I came across the references stretched across the narrative. Brittany Cavallaro has my loyalty. She's a true Sherlockian fan and is as capable as playing the game as any of the Baker Street Irregulars.
There's a fairly thin line between the melodramatic and high intense drama in books. Sometimes, books just take it a bit too far and I roll my eyes so many times that I should probably fear they'll get stuck. But this one has just the right amount of stuff going on to make you sit on the edge of your seat or bite all your nails off.
Brittany Cavallaro tempers this high intensity with a characterization that shines and made me care and made me swoon and all in all I didn't feel like anything was fake or false or didn't ring true. It was paced perfectly.
Verdict? Get to your nearest bookseller's site and pre-order this baby right now.
And now, giveaway time!