Warlock Holmes-A Study in Brimstone.
4 stars out of 5.
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes.
Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A study in Brimstone brings together six reimagined stories from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series into one novel. A study in Brimstone is the re-imagining of Conan Doyle’s first Holmes book, A study in Scarlet which brings together Holmes and Watson for the first time alongside five different short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series:
-The Adventure of the Resident Patient.
-The Adventure of the Cardboard Box.
-The Adventure of the Yellow Face.
-The Adventure of the Speckled Band.
-The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.
-The Adventure of the Resident Sacrifice.
-The Case of the Cardboard…….Case.
-The Adventure of the Yellow Bastard.
-The Adventure of the _echoed _and.
-Charles Augustus Milverton: Soulbinder.
I’m a Holmes fan, I’ve read all Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories and short story collections and thoroughly enjoyed them. I was also impressed with Anthony Horowitz’s fairly recent The House of Silk as I thought he did a great job of bringing Sherlock to life in a way very reminiscent of Conan Doyle. So, whilst this book really intrigued me, I have to admit I was also sceptical about it, however I didn’t need to have worried as Denning has done a great job with this book crafting a humorous addition to the Holmes canon.
Denning keeps the stories and their format close to the classic originals but also finds the perfect balance of adding humour and fantastical elements that whilst respecting the originals and keeping both their wit and charm also stands to make his retelling his own unique version.
The short stories Denning has included in the book are a great selection, obviously we needed to start with A study in Brimstone/Scarlet as it is the origin story for the Watson and Holmes partnership but the five other shorts are all good choices as they are all different tales.
The reimagined characters are: Warlock Holmes (Incompetent Detective), Vladislav Lestrade (Nihilist Vampire), Torg Grogsson (House-proud Ogre) and John Watson (a simple Human). They are all likeable, well written, often times funny characters that Denning manages to bring to life in a surreal version of Victorian London. The cast of supporting characters don’t escape Denning’s fantastical reimagining either with both the Baker Street Irregulars and Mrs Hudson given the treatment, the former who in the original series are merely a gang of child street urchins are transformed into a gang of Were-Rats. Whereas the later in Mrs Hudson, is a septuagenarian whom according to Watson has a penchant for smutty romance novels!
At times Warlock does show hints of his serious counterpart but he really is a terrible, bumbling detective, relying on occult and supernatural powers, help from Demons and cryptic monologues from Moriarty who just so happens to be a soul trapped inside Warlock! In a twist it is Watson that is the brains and has the skills of observation and deduction that help to aid in the solving of the various cases. Some of the most humourous parts of the book come when Watson has to cover up Warlock’s nonchalant use of his supernatural powers and in what I’m sure some fans will deem a travesty, Holmes trusty Violin has been replaced by an Accordion.
Throughout the book there are a few illustrations, one per tale with each depicting a scene from that particular story, they are of a high standard and are a nice touch but I’d have personally liked to have seen a few more. The cover also deserves a mention, it’s got quite a classic look and design to it with a plain white background and black and green detailing but it’s an aesthetic and colour scheme that works well and looks really smart.
This book is a great setup and beginning for Warlock’s adventures in future releases, where I hope to see Denning continue to further develop the characters and their relationships and also hopefully include more magic and of course more demons to. The Hound of the Baskervilles is my favourite Sherlock Holmes tale and I can’t wait for Warlock Holmes to return next year in Denning’s take on that classic, The Battle for Baskerville Hall.
A cracking good, well written, humorous, fast paced, re-imagining of the classic pairing of Holmes and Watson. Readers who have never read a Holmes book before will find to like here as will fans of the Conan Doyle originals and in my humble opinion Sherlock fans will soon become Warlock fans.