- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing; 1 edition (August 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1894063600
- ISBN-13: 978-1894063609
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes Paperback – August 5, 2011
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As long as there are people on Earth, I suspect, there will be fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. As librarians and horror fans make arrangements to purchase the latest Sherlock Holmes movie or TV series video collection, may I also suggest picking up Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes to add to your display? The third anthology of a series of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes compilations (the others being Gaslight Grimoire and Gaslight Grotesque), this short story collection with a supernatural edge is both a notable and a noble tribute to the Great Consulting Detective.
All of the stories in this book are well-crafted, but the first story, "The Comfort of the Seine," is in itself worth the cost of the book, in my opinion. Stephen Volk captures the underlying passion and anxiety of a young Sherlock Holmes wonderfully in this "origins" story, offering the reader a theory that would explain some of the eccentricities of the detective that are later catalogued by his companion, Dr. Watson. A young, impressionable Holmes, who loses a lady love and later his naïveté, is fascinating to read about in this work.
Other worthy tales included "The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes" by Tom English, where Holmes and Watson investigate a demonic tome, portrays Holmes as particularly ruthless and overly-enthralled in the case; "The Greatest Mystery" by Paul Kane, where a rash of seemingly unrelated murders by unwilling participants leads Holmes and Watson to the greatest nemesis of all of us; and "The Adventure of the Six Maledictions" by Kim Newman, which is actually a "foil" story about Professor Moriarty and his henchman, Sebastian "Dead-Eye" Moran. The weakest story in this collection is "A Country Death" by Simon Kurt Unsworth, not just because it was slow, but because it really had no relevance to the Holmes canon: a reader could exchange any name for Holmes' with no discontinuity in the plot. However, this aside, the book is well worth purchasing.
I recommend Gaslight Arcanum for Sherlock Holmes fans and anyone who enjoys a good mystery. These works are unlike Doyle's stories, where the seemingly supernatural always has a natural explanation, but the puzzles in this collection are unpredictable and compelling nonetheless. Contains: gore, violence, the supernatural
Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips
From the Back Cover
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'THE COMFORT OF THE SIENE' by Stephen Volk - 5 stars
The premise was not only fantastic, but the Victorian writing was authentic and from the pen of an exceptionally talented author. Not to give away spoilers, but if you love Poe's Dupin (who Sherlock Holmes was based on), you are going to find this one fascinating. I do have to mention some of Holmes' behaviour was remarkably OOC, though.
'THE ADVENTURE OF LUCIFER'S FOOTPRINTS' by Christopher Fowler - 1 star
Uninteresting, failed attempt at a pastiche or anything resembling a mystery. Seemed rushed and scraped together, as scenes jumped erratically, situations were poorly described and sometimes a bit confusing, to where I'd need to re-read passages. The only redeeming factor here was its brevity.
'THE DEADLY SIN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' by Tom English - 5 stars
Eerily good fun, reminded me a bit of ACD's 'The Silver Hatchet'. This is one to get caught up in, and will send the shivers down your spine. Made all the better for it capturing the essence of Sherlock Holmes - my favourite line? "Fascinating," said Holmes, yawning. Investigation played out the way Holmes of Canon would have done, down to the last letter. Supernatural or no, this was a genuinely well done pastiche.
'THE COLOR THAT CAME TO CHISWICK' by William Meikle - 3 stars
This was a so-so, almost pulpy tale and mediocre story. While suspension of disbelief is mandatory for any uncanny type story, this sometimes bordered on ridiculous not from the plot, but the freely used anachronisms. It could have had an H.G. Wells Vitcorian sci-fi feel to it were it not for the mentions of ectoplasm/protoplasm, or the fact that mustard gas was not experimented with in 1887 or used by any military until WW1, took this from "what if" to "oh, please".
'FROM THE TREE OF TIME' by Fred Saberhagen - 4 stars
I was surprisingly impressed with Saberhagen's Dracula meets Holmes story, which could have been a dozen different types of cliché, but managed to be fresh and original. A little slow paced, yet his Holmes voice and deductions were spot on, with a clever little twist for an ending.
'THE EXECUTIONER' by Lawrence C. Connelly - 3 stars
While this was a very interesting and original take on what happened after the struggle at Reichenbach Falls, it was slow moving and was just okay. Nothing special here, though not a badly written or told story.
'A COUNTRY DEATH' by Simon Kurt Unsworth - 1 star
I'm not even sure what this was supposed to be. Personally speaking, I read pastiches for the characters more than anything else, and not it's that I'm averse to character death when done well, but this was just a disgusting mess, all around. The mystery was so see-through as to be irritating, it was too long - the solution was obvious but the story kept on going, and this was the only one in this collection I eventually skimmed through and then skipped to the end. It deserves zero stars.
'SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE GREAT GAME' by Kevin Cockle - 2.5 stars
Not bad at all for all the premise was a bit out there. Fast moving, a decent attempt at characterization, and I especially enjoyed the attention paid to Watson in this one.
'SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DIVING BELL' by Simon Clark - 5 stars
AH.MA.ZING!!! One of the best supernatural tales in the entire compilation, this was especially chilling, suspenseful and a definite page turner. I could not put this down and had actual goosebumps when it ended. Was also done in an authentic Watson voice - I could see it being one of those cases the doctor teasingly alludes to but never writes down. INCREDIBLY good.
'THE GREATEST MYSTERY' by Paul Kane - 4.5 stars
An excellent story, one of the few in here that can be enthusiastically called a true horror. There were no end to the anachronisms of speech, however, and that was so jarring it did detract from the atmosphere of the tale. This is one that will stay with you, though.
'THE HOUSE OF BLOOD' by Tony Richards - 4 stars
While Sherlock Holmes in the modern era is best left in the competent hands of the BBC (and Benedict Cumberbatch), this tale of an immortal Holmes was much better and more entertaining than I thought it might be.
'THE ADVENTURE OF THE SIX MALEDICTIONS' by Kim Newman - 2 stars
Having nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes himself, this one was based around Professor Moriarity and Col. Moran in some odd alternate universe-ish setting. Admittedly, I could not finish this one, as it wasn't a bad story per se, but failed to hold my interest at all. That could be because I prefer horror/supernatural to sci-fi or the blatant lack of Holmes in a pastiche.
Edited by JR Campbell & Charles Prepolec
Another mixture of mystery, mayhem, and mystic by a number of modern authors, this book is the third in this Gaslight series.
“The Comfort of the Seine” by Stephen Volk: Upon the death of Sherlock Holmes, a written manuscript is delivered to Lestrade at Scotland Yard. Holmes wishes to set some things straight, and then have the manuscript sealed in the Yard’s Black Museum.
It is a confession of sorts, as Holmes reveals the source of his talents—he learned from C. Auguste Dupin himself! By observing death, Holmes learns how to read life. And Dupin is—well that would be a spoiler! Volk starts this volume out strong with a four out of five stars story!
“The Adventure of the Devil’s Footprints” by Christopher Fowler: A large amount of cloven hoof prints stretch across the lands of Major General Sir Henry Woodham in Devon after a terrible storm. Sir Henry’s groom is found after the storm, his throat slashed with a cavalry saber.
Sir Henry, his groom, and his houseguest Mr. Charlton fought in the same regiment in the Crimean War. Sir Henry suspects that the enemy soldiers are striking down those that killed them in that war from beyond the grave. The truth is worse… I commend Mr. Fowler for a great four out of five stars story!
“The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes: by Tom English: In the thirteenth century, in Podlažice, Bohemia, an apostate monk wrote a manuscript upon vellum in his own blood. The book was not only evil; its words had the power to lead men to lose their souls by horrible deeds. Now bound in an ancient binding with an inverted cross on the front, The Codex Exsecrablis has resurfaced—in England.
Asked by the monks of St. Benedict to recover this grimoire, Holmes finds himself shaken to the core. Can evil be truly written in blood and corrupt anyone who reads it?
Mr. English has created a masterpiece of mystery and mysticism, certainly worthy of five stars out of five!
“The Color that Came to Cheswick” by William Meikle: A curious green slime has been found at a brewery in Cheswick, a slime that seems to have an intelligence all its own. It kills a man by basically dissolving him, although he remains alive far past what should have killed him. Holmes has taken a sample of this slime to test in a University laboratory. What he finds terrifies him.
With Mr. Meikle’s usual skill, he has crafted a story of Holmes and horror worthy indeed of five stars out of five!
“From the Tree of Time” by Fred Saberhagen: Count Dracula writes this story of his own acquaintance with Holmes, and a vampire killed with a stone!
The twist in this short story is so good that I must give Mr. Saberhagen the full five stars out of five!
“The Executioner” by Lawrence C Connelly: This story has a twist so great that I am loathe to say much for fear of spoiling it for another reader. Suffice to say, it is a tale of Holmes and the Frankenstein Monster.
Mr. Connelly has placed no unneeded sentence in crafting his five stars out of five story!
“A Country Death” by Simon Kurt Unsworth: Holmes is dead on his estate at Sussex Downs, covered with tiny wounds and swollen by some sort of venom. A manuscript written by Holmes lies on his table. Holmes has been experimenting with his bees, and the result of this experiment has lead to his death by bee venom.
This story does have its high points, and I deem it worthy of four out of five stars.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Great Game” by Kevin Cockle: Called to Canada to investigate possible plans by the Russians to seize control of strategic land, Holmes and Watson stumble into a world of magic and sacrifice—which could cost Watson his sanity, his life, and his soul.
Not bad. I’ll give Mr. Cockle his due four out of five stars.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark: Holmes hears tale of a man who is apparently still alive after five years on the ocean floor in a sunken ship. He races to see if this is true, as he hopes to save the life of a small girl. But sometimes things are not always what they seem…
The twist ending in this Simon Clark story makes it worthy of five out of five stars!
“The Greatest Mystery” by Paul Kane: Holmes always said that the greatest mystery was death. Now London is awash in a sea of deaths that seem to make no sense at all. Even Holmes is affected, attacking Watson before regaining control. What if the only way to solve this case is for Holmes to die?
Great story, Mr. Kane! I give it five out of five stars!
“The House of Blood” by Tony Richards: Sherlock Holmes has discovered that he is immortal. He is now working on assignment with the Las Vegas police. A series of people have won big at one of the Casinos playing Black Jack. Their bodies are found in the desert drained of blood, and their winnings stolen. They are calling these “The Vampire Killings.”
Holmes doesn’t believe in Vampires, but something worse can always be found.
I can’t bring myself to spoil the mystery. Suffice to say that Mr. Richards has created himself a five stars out of five story!
“The Adventure of the Six Maledictions” by Kim Newman: This is, strictly speaking, a Professor Moriarty story written by Colonel Sebastian Moran. There are some treasures that it is better never to find. In this case there are six of them:
The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God
The Black Pearl of the Borgias
The Falcon of the Knights of St. John
The Jewels of the Madonna of Naples
The Jewel of the Seven Stars
The Eye of Baylor
Each of these has its own peculiar curse, and in each case the curse is genuine. Yet Moriarty has obtained them. Why?
Kim Newman cooks up another wonderful recipe in this novella, worth plus five out of five stars!
Quoth the Raven…
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