I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on March 1st 2016
Also by this author: The Last of August
Format: eARC (336 pages) • Source: Fantastic Flying Book Club
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The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.
Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.
I’m always interested in retellings – even the non-fairytale ones. Those are more common, for sure, but some of the historical retellings are more unique. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about historical figures, so I’m usually entering them blindly… but still end up enjoying them! I’m not overly familiar with Sherlock Holmes stories, so this was another where I luckily didn’t have a lot of historical expectations. It’s nice because I go into it with a wide-open attitude, instead of preparing to make comparisons to the real text. In this story, Sherlock and Holmes were real people that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about. The main characters are Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, the descendants of the famous detective duo. One of the cooler parts of the book for me is the fact that it takes place in my state – Connecticut! I don’t see a lot of books happening here, so that was almost reason enough to add it to my TBR.
It’s funny because the Holmes/Watson relationship ended up being my favorite part of the book! I loved the dynamic between the two of them. I hope it lines up well with the original stories, but from someone who doesn’t know – it was awesome. From what I do understand, they both had similar personality traits to their ancestors. View Spoiler »One thing that bugged me, which I guess is a parallel to the original Sherlock Holmes, was her drug problem. It was addressed as kind of an “Oh, Charlotte and her drugs!” but not really as an ACTUAL ISSUE. « Hide Spoiler It was cool to see how they come together at the beginning of the book, and how their relationship grows. Great chemistry! The dynamic was definitely different because she was a girl and he was a boy too. There was a little less platonic-ness to it, for sure – more emotions involved. I liked being inside Watson’s head instead of Holmes’s too (which I think is accurate to the original story??), because you could see him go back-and-forth on his general feelings for her and trust in her. She kept him guessing just as much as the rest of the mystery did. I loved seeing him take some things into his own hands towards the end.
I enjoyed the book overall, but I felt somewhat disconnected from the writing. I’m not sure what it was about the style. It kept me interested for sure and I couldn’t stop reading, but it wasn’t my favorite. I don’t read a lot of mystery/thriller kinds of books and I’m usually terrible about figuring out who did it. I won’t spoil anything, but it was a really interesting mystery throughout! (Also, I fall more in love with that cover every time I look at it. Just saying.)
“This wasn’t one of my great-great-great-grandfather’s stories (her with her hat and cane and pocket watch, dashing out to haul the villain in, me waiting by the fire for the great reveal to be brought safely home).” (75% in ARC)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Release Date: March 1st 2016
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Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the poetry collection Girl-King (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she teaches creative writing, detective fiction, and lots of other things. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps. Find her at her website, brittanycavallaro.com, or on Twitter @skippingstones.