Monday 25 March 2019

Book Review *Sherlock Holmes Inspired YA*

I have recently been chewing through a bunch of great YA novels so I am planning a few bulk reviews. 

This first review contains two great series which have kept me guessing and have intriguing protagonists. They are both Sherlock-y style mysteries and have a few similarities. 

The first series is the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. It contains 3 novels – no make that 4! A new one has just been published – bear with me while I go and place a hold on that one! The book titles are: A Study in Charlotte, The Last of August, The Case for Jamie and A Question of Holmes.

The first three novels round out nicely so I’m picking that the fourth one will be an added bonus with more character progression which will be great.

Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are the great-great-great grandchildren of the famous duo Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Charlotte holds her heritage proud and has made it her mission to learn to observe and solve mysteries. She has lead a largely privileged life and now finds herself at a boarding school in the States. Charlotte is quirky, witty and has all manner of social issues. She is also partial to a wide range of heavy drugs which often help and hinder her efforts. 

Jamie Watson is also attending the same boarding school and tries to befriend Charlotte as he sees it as their fate. Charlotte is quick to shut him down but when she is indecently assaulted and the perpetrator is killed in a scene that mirrors a Holmes novel, it is clear that Charlotte and Jamie are being framed and they are only able to trust each other. There is plenty of quick thinking, explosions and awkward moments and the odd twist. It is a great first novel in the series. 

The next books explore more of the family’s dynamics and the dealings with the Moriarty family. It takes the pair around the globe as they get mixed up in a variety of issues. It is written from both of their perspectives which is definitely helpful in Charlotte's case as she has a very unique take on things and her thought process can be hard to follow when you aren’t in her head.
A great series for those who love quirky characters, anything Sherlock related and of course, a good mystery.

The second series in this review is by Maureen Johnson. I precede this review with a warning – if you are not the patient sort then you may wish to wait until the final book in the trilogy is out is January 2020. The cliff-hangers are real!

The first in the series is called Truly, Devious, the second is The Vanishing Stair and the third is The Hand in the Wall (yet to be published).

In 1936, the wife and young daughter of a wealthy gentleman disappeared under mysterious circumstances. A full investigation was carried out but the case is still unsolved. The gentleman was Mr Ellingham and he ran Ellingham Academy, a private and elite boarding school for the brightest and most creative minds. The school is filled with secret tunnels, riddles and quirks that make learning a game. Rumour has it that Ellingham would do anything to get them back and when a riddle signed Truly, Devious shows up, it seems there is more to the disappearance than it seems. 

In the present day, Stevie Bell – a true-crime aficionado – is accepted into Ellingham Academy and sets to work to solve the cold case.  Stevie is also very socially awkward and has chronic anxiety attacks which make her a very interesting and vulnerable character, although she tries her best to hide it from her classmates. Stevie has read everything about the case and gets herself into plenty of trouble snooping around but she makes friends and finds a few leads. Then a classmate dies in suspicious circumstances and it seems the past is repeating itself.

The series is told by jumping from the original events in 1936, to Stevie’s perspective. This makes for a slow chronological reveal of the mystery but it is quite complex so it works really well. By the end of book two we are still unsure of the clues we need to solve the bulk of the mystery but we do know some things. There are plenty of unanswered questions though so the next book will be epic. 

I enjoyed this series more than the Charlotte Holmes one. It is easier to read and flows better but they are both equally quirky and witty. I definitely recommend giving these series a try.