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A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes Novel) Hardcover – March 1, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—What if Sherlock Holmes's great-great-great-granddaughter went to boarding school with Dr. Watson's great-great-great-grandson? They might strike up a friendship as sophomores. Charlotte Holmes and James Watson do, at the money-conscious Sherringford, a prep school in Connecticut. Holmes (as she is known) has an analytical, antisocial bent and a bit of a drug problem. Watson, who narrates, has a short fuse and quickly becomes a suspect in a date rapist's murder. Together they begin an investigation, putting their inductive and deductive skills to the test. A familiarity with classic Arthur Conan Doyle tales is helpful, though most references are explained in the story. Both Holmes and Watson are prickly teenagers in a plot that includes poison, explosions, Moriarty's descendant, and a deadly virus. The case wraps up neatly, with the indication that Holmes and Watson will team up again in the near future. This novel presents a dark view of boarding school, with some drinking and other risqué behavior. Suggest to fans of Maggie Stiefvater's "Raven Cycle" series (Scholastic). Slightly younger readers might try Colleen Gleason's "Stoker and Holmes" series (Chronicle), featuring Holmes's niece and Bram Stoker's sister. VERDICT An additional selection for most school libraries.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX
“A thrilling twist on a classic. Readers will be pulled in by both the riveting mystery and Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant heroine with secrets of her own.” (Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of London series)
“Cavallaro’s crackling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and complicated relationships make this feel like a seamless and sharp renewal of Doyle’s series. An explosive mystery featuring a dynamic duo.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred))
“Debut author Cavallaro brings Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuths (or their distant relatives, anyway) into the 21st century, casting Holmes as a brilliant young woman and Watson, who narrates, as her admirer and accomplice...An involving murder mystery, and a promising start to a planned trilogy.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Fans of television’s Elementary and Sherlock will avidly devour this book...a joyous excuse to watch one of the literary world’s most beloved pairings come together.” (Booklist)
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First of all, I'm actually not a childhood Sherlock Holmes fan (though I have immensely enjoyed the Cumberbatch version) so a lot of the references were unknown or new to me. I say this to illustrate that you absolutely DO NOT have to be knowledgeable about the original stories to enjoy the pants off this book.
This book was written with the slightly distanced voice I have always admired and enjoyed in English stories, and the author does such an impeccable job weaving that style in with the very authentic American-teens-in-boarding-school setting. The marriage of those two things was so flawlessly executed I just wanted to applaud.
The characters, while they drew on the Sherlock stories of legend, were so obviously her own, and while I enjoyed Jamie Watson immensely as the sentimental narrator - for me it was really detached-and-ruthlessly-efficient Charlotte that stole the show. She was unlikeable and harsh and brilliant and I fell absolutely in love with her from her first appearance. It's the first time I've ever been compelled to twist the infamous #bookboyfriend hashtag for my own purposes:
Charlotte Holmes is my #bookgirlfriend. Forever.
ANYWAY - the plot was rich with nods to the original Doyle stories, but Cavallero makes them utterly shine in this rendition. I went back in the story to scour the text for clues. I gasped and swore and clapped when the plot twisted and turned. I was completely taken by the story and the people that populated it, and the epilogue was just the icing on the cake.
BUY THIS BOOK. LOVE IT. and don't be surprised if I shout these things into your actual ears if you ever run into me at a bookshop.
Every bit of this story is written as a lovely, intelligent homage to the original stories - and it was clearly written by someone who knows those stories, and all the Holmes-lore, inside and out - but it also stands beautifully on its own. Charlotte and Jamie are fantastic characters on their own, not just copies of their originals. The mystery is fun, the adventure is fun, and the two of them together are just fabulous. The last line of this book made me so happy, I let out a happy book-sigh. If I'd had a hard copy, instead of a Kindle edition, I would have petted it afterwards! I loved it that much.
And I cannot wait for the next book in this series