A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) by Brittany Cavallaro
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1, 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary, mystery, retellings
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I love Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t watched the popular TV show Sherlock yet (pitiful, I know), but I’ve read the original series, and I loved every bit of it. The mystery, the fun, the suspense, the explanations that are so complicated, but seem so fantastically simple when Sherlock explains them–and, of course, Sherlock and Watson’s friendship.
So when I heard about this YA Sherlock retelling–where murders are happening, and those murders are based off of the murders in the original series–I was super excited. And it delivered.
Though this book has many differences from the original series (Sherlock is a girl here, both Sherlock and Watson are at boarding school together, the book is set in the U.S. instead of the U.K./Europe, etc.), A Study in Charlotte was successful in reminding me why I love the original series so much. It hearkened back to the old while simultaneously bringing something new to the table.
The main reason I loved this book is because of the characters. While true to the characters they were based off of, Cavallaro’s interpretations of Sherlock and Watson were amazing. Both were developed, well-rounded, independent individuals–in their own ways, of course. Jamie was sensitive without being overbearingly so, and Charlotte was cunning, clever, and methodical without being a robot. Jamie and Charlotte balance each other out very well, and I loved the way their friendship developed and the way they both grew to depend on each other without becoming overdependent. It was entertaining, it was wonderful, and it was real. Their chemistry (both in a platonic and romantic sense) was the main reason why I finished this book in one day.
And if you know me, you know I never have the stamina to finish a book over 200 pages in one day. But this book is different.
I also enjoyed how Cavallaro incorporated science into this novel, just like the original series did. Technologically-speaking, a lot has changed since Sir Conan Doyle wrote his series, and we know a lot more now than we did then. But, when Charlotte and Jamie sleuth–and use science to do it–it has that old-school, cleverly-obvious feel, without being outdated. Each new Sherlock-inspired murder brought a bought of nostalgia for me (call me morbid if you want, but whatever) as I remembered Sherlock and Watson’s old adventures and all the twisty, mind-boggling mysteries they solved. Orchestrating the murders that way was a clever tribute to the old series, and it made me smile. (Again, murder itself does not make me smile, but…I think you get what I’m trying to say here.)
The ending/final reveal, while unexpected, was a bit difficult for me to follow, but I blame this largely on the fact that I was tearing through the last 50 pages to get to the end, and my brain was mush from so much reading. Still, we received a nice conclusion for this book, and a great set-up for the sequel, The Last of August.
All in all? A well-delivered, unique tribute to a much-loved series, with just as many tricks up its sleeve as the original Sherlock books. This book was one of my favorite 2016 reads, and I cannot wait for The Last of August.