A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) – Brittany Cavallaro
This book is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes, except that in this universe both Sherlock Holmes and his author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are real, and the storyline follows descendants of Holmes and Watson thrown together seemingly by fate at a prestigious school in Connecticut and then framed for murder. Although Charlotte Holmes is the titular sleuth, the main POV is that of Watson, who besides being recruited for a sport at which he is terrible, finds himself shipped across an ocean in an effort by his mother for him to get to know his estranged father and step family.
I saw a book trailer for A Study in Charlotte sometime ago and assumed it was a movie. You can find it here. When I realized it was a novel, I immediately added it to my TBR and eagerly awaited it’s release. Not only did the cover speak to me in a decidedly Nancy Drew kind of way, but the characters seemed interesting and I am a person who always loves a good Sherlock Holmes story.
The novel was gritty and twisting, and in true Sherlock form, much was left unexplained until the big reveal at the end of the book. Although this frustrated me as I read, it was obvious that Cavallaro was attempting to make it recognizable as the formula of all the Holmes stories. Because a lot of details were saved for the reveal and the story was told from Watson’s inexperienced point of view, I had no idea what was going to happen until it did. In this age of technology and surveillance equipment, it seemed odd to me that it took them so long to put all the pieces together, especially when Charlotte had a lot of experience in mystery solving pre-storyline and much of the framework for the case comes from the original Sherlock stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which both Holmes and Watson have read to death. However, the turn of events was original enough to be interesting.
I was feeling rather meh about the quick wrap-up, I’ll be honest. The epilogue, however, provided us with a brief Charlotte POV, which finally had me looking forward to a potential sequel or series and the idea of getting to know Holmes and Watson better as characters as they mature together. I think the storyline could have been a little stronger, but I think the characters will develop themselves further throughout the series, which I believe is going to be a trilogy.
This book is definitely on the upper end of YA. It takes all the dark parts of the Holmes family and fits them onto a teenage girl: Depression, unrequited love, alcoholism and drug addiction, sociopathic genius, and ever-rising stakes. Add in a rape and a murder and you’ve got enough material to make Charlotte Holmes a tortured creature. Yet she manages to rise above everything that’s happened to her and those around her and focus unwaveringly on the mystery at hand. Author Brittany Cavallaro had a lot of work to do to rein in a character like that, and I think she did a pretty great job.
HHC Rating: 3.5 stars
Other reviews in this series: Book #2 – The Last of August