- Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon.
- James Lovegrove.
- 384 pages.
- Thriller / Mystery / Fiction.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.
Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…
Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
It is late December 1890, Eve’s Allerthorpe’s birthday is fast approaching and on Christmas eve she will turn twenty-one-years-old. On her birthday she will inherit a sizeable fortune left to her by her aunt…but only if she is found to be of sound mind. If, however, Eve is found to not be of sound mind then the inheritance will be divided and spread equally between other family members.
Every year for Christmas the Allerthorpe’s host a gathering with their extended family coming from far and wide to celebrate the festive season at their family home of Fellscar Keep, an isolated castle located in East Riding, Yorkshire.
Fellscar Keep has a history and the local area is steeped in folklore, myth and local legend. One such local legend is that of the ‘Black Thurrick’ an evil entity, the dark to the light and an anti-father Christmas. The Black Thurrick replaces the benevolence and goodwill of Father Christmas with malevolence and ill will. The Black Thurrick removes the toys of those children who have been bad and exchanges them with bundles of birch twigs. And, if an offering isn’t left out for the Black Thurrick then, the Black Thurrick will steal the children of the household, take them back to its underground lair and eat them.
When she was a child, alongside her younger brother, Eve’s mother used to regale the two children with tales of the Black Thurrick, a tale told to scare the children into being good and one that has been etched in Eve’s memory. Now, nearing Christmas and Eve’s birthday bundles of birch twigs are being left around Fellscar Keep. In the dark of the night, mysterious noises are being heard emanating from the east wing of the castle. And Eve, herself, by the glow of moonlight has glimpsed a figure resembling the countenance of the sinister Black Thurrick walking across the frozen lake late at night.
With no-one else to turn to, Eve travels to London where she asks Holmes and Watson for aid, for their help in the hope that they will be able to uncover the truth behind the strange occurrences that are plaguing both her and Fellscar keep. To add to matters, while Holmes and Watson are at Fellscar Keep investigating the tale of the Black Thurrick things take on a more serious tone when one of the household is found dead under suspicious circumstances.
The folklore is well incorporated and adds an ominous air to the story. Deep in winter Fellscar Keep is gripped by the coldness of the season with snow blanketing the area and the setting is very atmospheric. The gloomy, expansive and secluded Fellscar Keep, a castle on an island in the middle of a lake, joined to the land by a causeway, surrounded by a forest and miles away from the nearest village.
There’s a vigour to the storytelling, a zeal to the writing and you can tell that Lovegrove has a genuine love for the iconic duo in his work. The mystery doesn’t disappoint, neither does the setting, the characters, the deductions, the twists or the denouement of the investigation. It is all cleverly plotted, honours and serves to pay homage to the characters of Holmes and Watson by once more bringing them to life in a gripping and highly entertaining mystery that captures the era perfectly and feels deeply reminiscent of a classic Holmes tale.
I really liked the actual ending with Lovegrove ending things with some festive cheer done in a very Holmesesque way. It felt like a fitting end and leaves you with a smile upon your face.
Simply, Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon was an absolute joy to read.
Pre-order Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon released on October 22nd, 2019.
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