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Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Length: 336 pages
Source: eARC via Edelweiss

The last thing Jamie 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 great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Jamie Watson, the great-great-great grandson of Dr. John Watson, has found himself at the same boarding school as Charlotte Holmes, the descendant of the famous detective. As their paths cross they find themselves framed for a murder they did not commit and have to work together to find the real culprit, much like their famous ancestors. So, I really liked Jamie, loyal, for the most part honest, caring, and a really lovable protagonist. He does have his flaws, a quick temper, a self-deprecating attitude, and he gets emotionally invested in things much too quickly, but as the story progresses he does begin to develop and evolve. It's nothing too abrupt or obvious, but there are little things, some more noticeable than others that show and illustrate his development over the course of this book.

Romance: I'll be honest going into this book I wasn't sure how I would feel about a Holmes and Watson romance. On the one hand, it sort of seems like the easy route when you have two characters of the opposite sex star in your novel to have them enter a romance of some form or another, and also I have a particular love for authors who write male and female characters that can be friends without a hint of romantic feelings on either side. However, while I did hold onto my feels on this topic for part of the book, it started to break down at one point as I began to see the bond these two characters have. Now, the romance itself doesn't take up all that much of the book, it's actually spread pretty thin with the major focus of this book being the Sherlockian influences and the murder mystery. The little bit of romance that we do see though is done very well and this author has done a expert job at illustrating the feelings of these characters so clearly.

World-Building: Another fear I had going into this book was that it would rely too much on it's Sherlockian roots and end up being cheesy and lack any magic that would make it unique. However like before I probably shouldn't have worried at all, Cavallaro does a fantastic job of incorporating elements of Doyle's series and allusions to places and events, while at the same time coming up with a very unique world. I'm a bit of a sucker for books with a boarding school setting, although I do feel that we didn't get to see all too much of this one, maybe we will in the future installments. Now the Sherlockian themes and elements play a big part in this story, but they aren't all obvious and like I said before they aren't done in any cheesy sort of way to get a cheap laugh. In fact I felt that most, if not all, of the allusions and references to the Sherlock Holmes stories were done in a very sophisticated and, at times, very subtle way.

Predictability: So, I honestly don't know what to write here. For the most part there wasn't all that much foreshadowing in this book, which I didn't really mind. There were of course a few things here and there that I caught on to, but they were always very small things, nothing to really get excited about. In fact most of the time when I knew something it was more about what something wasn't than what something was, and most of the time it was because I relied on being familiar with the basic YA book formula. That's not to say however that when this book did take it's twists and turns I wasn't excited about them or that I didn't get the thrill that's usually associated with finding out a shocking and crucial piece of evidence, but I do sort of wish that there was a bit more to theorize about and more clues to follow than their were.

Ending: So I had to check my progress with this book several times as it started to come to a close. Let's just say that things don't all get wrapped up in a parlor room scene. The final climax while not action packed, doesn't really need to be, it's more a battle of wits and wills than brawn. The cool down period for this book was a bit long, wrapping up a few loose ends here and there, in fact if I didn't know this was a planned trilogy, I could have easily assumed it was a standalone, despite a few loose threads here and there. Now there is an epilogue, usually my favorite parts of books, however this one is a bit different, I won't spoil anything but I'll just say I really enjoyed it.

Rating:


This is a fun Sherlockian style murder mystery that, while it has allusions and shared elements to the Doyle stories, can stand on it's own! I can't wait for the next installment in what looks to be a wonderful trilogy!

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