It’s Elementary My Dear… – Book Review: A Study In Brimstone

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A few months ago the fabulous G.S.Denning got in touch with me on Instagram to ask if I would like to receive a review copy of his book, Warlock Holmes: A Study In Brimstone.

A fantasy retelling of Sherlock Homes full of irreverent humour and Holmes is a hopeless warlock? Sign me up!

Before I dive in with the review, here’s a bit more on A Study In Brimstone, taken from Goodreads:

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes.

Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

An imaginative, irreverent and addictive reimagining of the world’s favourite detective, Warlock Holmes retains the charm, tone and feel of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while finally giving the flat at 221b Baker Street what it’s been missing for all these years: an alchemy table.

Reimagining six stories, this riotous mash-up is a glorious new take on the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes myth, featuring the vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade, the ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson, and Dr. Watson, the true detective at 221b. And Sherlock. A warlock.

I will be completely honest; excited though I was at the prospect of a humorous, fantasy version of Sherlock Holmes, I was also slightly sceptical. It could have gone one of two ways: I was either about to read a book that was reaching too far, taking a giant of literature where it should not be taken, or I was about to read a cleverly twisted tale which would have me chuckling whilst also enjoying nods to the much loved classic. I was pleased to find it was the latter.

I thoroughly enjoyed Denning’s reworking of these classic stories and it was refreshing to read a book so wholly and simply entertaining that also kept so closely to the classic Holmes stories. The core twist in Denning’s rewrite is that all the well known mysteries are actually supernatural in nature. Holmes, rather than solving them through brilliant deduction, is often perpetuating – if not downright causing – the crimes, whilst Watson desperately constructs fantastic yet believable reasoning in order to cover up the weird and wonderful truth.

The whole books has an almost Pratchett-esque feel to it, with its light, highly readable tone and laugh-out-loud humour. There are some great details closely drawn from the source material but the rewriting is brilliantly done so that it feels fresh and unique. From Holmes’ hopeless eccentricity and unfortunate habit of unwittingly channelling the demon spirit of Moriarty, to the vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade and his ballet-loving Ogre colleague Torg Grogsson, this book is a riot and I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted, entertaining read that will have you chuckling from beginning to end, I highly recommend you look no further.

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