Much darker than the first book. I was surprised at some of the shenanigans and goings-on. Definitely feels like a bit of an homage to Frankenstein anMuch darker than the first book. I was surprised at some of the shenanigans and goings-on. Definitely feels like a bit of an homage to Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not what I'd call light reading at all.
This volume doesn't feel as cohesive as previous volumes (and I'm not merely speaking of the variety of stories). The Jonah Hex narrative doesn't seemThis volume doesn't feel as cohesive as previous volumes (and I'm not merely speaking of the variety of stories). The Jonah Hex narrative doesn't seem to go as well together, although I do appreciate getting Hex's backstory. I can see why he's so grumpy. However, I still liked this a lot. Tons of rip-roaring action, and it has a nice Gothic twist as a certain Mr. Hyde arrives in Gotham to wreak havoc. There's even a nice shoutout to Jane Eyre that made this fan smile. I have a feeling the writer had a lot of fun with these stories, although they are really quite dark, moreso than previous volumes, in my opinion. As usual, I really enjoy the artwork in this series. It's interesting how the male faces tend towards rugged to sometimes ugly, but the females look like dolls. Not an insult. I like the way the artist draws women. They look very pretty, even Tallulah Black, with all her facial scars and eyepatch. (since my interest is drawing/painting women, that stands out for me). The historical fiction story about the Native American freedom fighter, Tomahawk made me sad. One of the darker moments of American history (along with slavery and centuries of institutionalized racism against black Americans), and one that we need to be reminded of, although it's never pleasant to consider the systematic extermination of the Native peoples. Tomahawk is an angry man, and I can see why he's angry. While it was well-written, its inclusion doesn't fit the rest of the book very well at all.
This series never fails to appeal to the western action lover in me!...more
This was a lucky find when I was browsing my library's graphic novel collection. I am a big ghost story fan, and I like the idea of a hero who has assThis was a lucky find when I was browsing my library's graphic novel collection. I am a big ghost story fan, and I like the idea of a hero who has assumed the powers of different spirits. It's not quite what I thought, but it's still pretty good.
There's a pretty significant old school vibe to this book. I think the creators were going for a pulp vibe. The adventure and ready mix of supernatural elements. The energy is evident in the artwork. It's raw and somehow visceral. Using a lot of warm shades. The cover doesn't quite represent the color palette that dominates the book.
I really liked how Fabian Gray's spirit helpers are famous archetypes from fiction and literature, and how their abilities are harnessed and used by Fabian, although it comes with a price.
I can't give this the highest rating. While there was much I liked about it, it wasn't ground-breaking and it doesn't appeal to me in the execution as much as other graphic novels I'm reading. However, I think it will be interesting to pick this series up again and see what adventure are next for Mr. Gray....more
This book was a pleasure to read. The atmosphere is so classic Victorian and Gothic, the humor hit the mark, and while I wasn't sure about how successThis book was a pleasure to read. The atmosphere is so classic Victorian and Gothic, the humor hit the mark, and while I wasn't sure about how successful using real-life writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and playwright Oscar Wilde as a crime-solving duo would be, it turns out to be perfect. Wilde's wit was exactly what I expected and Doyle is just as lovable as his creation. I definitely recommend this book to those who are Victoriana-inclined, and who like classic/Gothic horror.
This volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People defThis volume was a mix of emotions: "wow", "that's so sad", "I don't get it", and "not so much". I do have to say that Love Stories for Dead People definitely canvasses the theme of this collection. Love is so much more than a four letter word, with infinite potential to shape our lives for the best and worst. This volume delves into that with a dark, twisted, and often gruesome collection of stories.
I loved the backstory on Ann, who was a pirate back in the day. I am all for a kickbutt, take charge, dangerous woman, and that's definitely her. I can see how deeply she was hurt, and why love isn't something she focuses energy on. And of course, I am a pirate theme lover. As far as Miranda, once a waitress in the House and a part of the crew, what was that about??? I didn't get it! The bits about Fig and an important person from her past were interesting. I can see that she has an ability that is going to play a huge role. I didn't understand what Cress did to Simon, but I know it has something to do with her terrible luck with love. Simon reminds me of John Constantine so much, it isn't funny! I loved the fact that Cress's doctor suitor looks exactly like Peter Cushing. Anyone else pick up on that, I wonder?
I feel like I didn't understand a lot of what was going on. The whole Cain/Abel thing and the nightmares that Harry had to battle. I could use some Cliff Notes for this book, but thankfully, I did find a Wiki, and I'll read some of that and hope I don't get too spoiled.
It's hard to give a good analysis of this book because I was feeling so lost for a lot of it. I saw a mix of nightmarish images with some events that had a little more clarity. I think the best part of this book was getting more of a backstory on two of the main characters: Ann and Cress, and finding out about Harry's earlier days in the House and his decision to make it into a bar. Oh and finding more about Fig's relationship with her father.
I hope I don't feel so lost in the next edition of this series. ...more
I preferred this to the last volume. I am still undecided whether I like this series as a whole. Good and bad. I love the literary nods and the concepI preferred this to the last volume. I am still undecided whether I like this series as a whole. Good and bad. I love the literary nods and the concept of metafiction. How can I not as such a bibliophile? I find the imagination of this series infectious, but there is a lot of meanness with the storyline and the characters.
I feel a lot of sympathy for both Tom and Lizzie. They are both being manipulated by grand masters at the game. Lizzie is both better off in that she has more understanding of the situation than Tom, but worse off because of how she was used as a pawn. Her origins are pretty intriguing, in fact.
I liked the "Choose Your Own Adventure" part of the collection, but I couldn't figure out how to get past page 35, so I gave up and just read it panel by panel. Shame on me, veteran Choose Your Own Adventure book-reader.
The bad guys in this are truly evil, and I don't mean Count Ambrosio. The mustache guy, man I despise him. Waiting for him to be "written off," permanently. The rest are more of the corporate cabal type of evil (don't get their hands dirty themselves).
Tom is slowly gaining awareness of his situation and starting to realize he has power to shape his next steps in the battle against the Cabal his father sacrificed everything to fight. He also has two friends on his side, much like his literary counterpart, Tommy.
Eh, it's safe to say that I didn't like Inside Man as much as the first volume in this series. I still enjoy the idea, because metafiction is very fasEh, it's safe to say that I didn't like Inside Man as much as the first volume in this series. I still enjoy the idea, because metafiction is very fascinating to this avid reader. I just had too many moments of trying to figure out what where the writer is going with this book. I feel that this volume lacked the clarity I could see in the first book.
As before, the artwork is lovely. I liked the use of mixed media and textures to convey the story. The layout includes illustrated representations of articles, screen caps from message boards, and images of news reporters, which add texture to the narrative. The exploration of folklore and fiction versus reality. Tom is still a sympathetic character who has had his whole life uprooted and his character destroyed by the recent events in his life. This book seemed to much like a detour, and the tone was very dark. In fact, one part of this book irritated me enormously and I still don't see the point in writing that.
Will I continue reading this? Yes. I want to know where this series is going, and since my library has these, I can check them out at my leisure and explore this series between other books.
I wasn't exactly a happy camper with Inside Man, but I think it does have something to offer a graphic novel reader....more
The Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. ItThe Unwritten strikes me as being somehow 'impressive'. It's hard to clarify what I mean, but the idea of it and the execution was very well done. It delves into the very fruitful literary territory of metafiction, where reality and fiction intersect. I find I truly enjoy metafiction, probably because of being such a lifelong bookworm and having my head stuck in a book for most of that life (since I was four).
In the case of Tommy Taylor, it's a painful intersection. His father is a famous novelist of children's books (in the vein of Harry Potter) who suddenly disappeared. Tommy is left depending on the uncertain income from coasting on his identity as Tommy Taylor, the eponymous character of the books his father wrote. When a lady shows up at a comic book convention and challenges his identity, the stuff hits the fan, and the adoring fans of the books become hateful, vengeance-seeking stalkers. Tommy's life implodes. But things only get worse, when he develops enemies that hail from the so-called mythical landscape of the books.
One of the things I liked the best about this graphic novel was the illustrations. It is clean and elegant. The lettering is also well done and distinctive. My eyes wanted to stay on the page and observe every detail, whereas with some graphic novels, there is too much to look at (so I pick and choose), and some aspects of the frames seem to fade into the woodwork because they are deemed less important. This book is a great midpoint where neither clarity or detail is compromised.
I also liked the prose and the storytelling. I felt sorry for Tommy. He really got a rough deal being who he was, and in effect powerless to change his life. I hope that he does gain some agency and authority in his life situation.
I do have to say I didn't care much for some aspects of one of the sections. The idea of tackling horror conventions since they were at the house at Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Mary Shelley (and apparently John Milton earlier) wrote the famous masterpiece they are known for, was a good one. I just didn't care for the gory turn of the story. I think it pricks a sore spot I have about the horror genre in general--the sacrifice of story and genuine narrative content for splatter and gore. I understood the purpose of this, but it just seemed gratuitous (although I admit it was still tastefully done).
The last section was rather odd initially. I didn't get why Rudyard Kipling was the narrator, until well into the story, and then the lightbulb came on. It ties in very well with this developing and expansive story and endows it with increased sense of threat and risk.
I still have a lot of questions, and I want to keep reading this series because it has my interest and attention. I hope that Tommy will come to understand his troublesome situation and discover the hero within.
I'd recommend this novel to lovers of books and literature in its various forms. ...more
Willingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this seWillingham's exploration of fables wouldn't have been complete without a look at the Arabian Nights. The folklore of the Middle East fits into this series very well, especially as the Adversary is expanding his takeover of the Fable lands into the Middle Eastern worlds now.
I think that it would be impossible to integrate all of the encompassing Arabian Nights lore into one volume, and I don't think Willingham ever intended to try. Instead, he uses this story as an introductory volume, and it has some elements that really stand out in the 1001 Nights lore. One well done example was the Jinn that the Arabian delegation brings alone with them. I think that perhaps that shows you the powerful motifs of the Arabian Nights in one large sort of concentrated burst at the audience. And of course, the Fables of Fabletown have to account for the power of such a force of nature, and counter-attack or at least attempt to neutralize it, much as one would consider taking on a nation with a stockpile of nuclear weapon that you want to maintain peaceful negotiations with. Never fear, Fabletown has some potent tools in their own toolkit.
Another effective aspect of this volume was the addressing of cultural differences that the Middle Eastern worlds had from what I would consider the European Fableworlds. Prince Charming is a big buffoon, and is completely unequipped to handy any diplomatic relations, thus his predecessor King Cole is called in to do this important job. I did find myself agreeing with Charming on one aspect of the Middle Eastern Fablelands culture though. Sinbad is a diplomatic leader of the Middle Eastern contingent, with a very wicked advisor who might open a few cans of worms that need to be dealt with.
Not related so much to the Arabian Nights storyline but to the overall Fables arc was a story about two wooden creations of Geppetto who fall in love for each other and wish to be human, but will have to pay a hard price. This story reveals Willingham's wonderful storytelling skills and the bittersweet tone and content of this volume in a nutshell. He shows that the opposite side has players that can also evoke the sympathy of the readers, even though their acts and methods might be reprehensible or just neutral morally in the scheme of things.
I'm sure there are some heavy underlying themes in this graphic novel, and I have only scratched the surface. I feel that I would love to reread all of these and revisit the whole series at my leisure, which is why I definitely want to get copies of these for my collection one day....more
George Mann and thirteen other writers provide new mystery-solving fodder for the famous duo of Holmes and Watson. I say well done over all. A coupleGeorge Mann and thirteen other writers provide new mystery-solving fodder for the famous duo of Holmes and Watson. I say well done over all. A couple of the stories were a bit dry (and I fell asleep reading those), but I enjoyed most of the stories. I liked how unique each one read, yet Holmes and Watson are true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creations. You wouldn't think an author could combine them with Martian aliens and Lovecraftian monsters, but you'd be wrong.
I'd recommend this overall to Sherlock Holmes/Watson fans.
A good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this oneA good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this one just cements the classic horror sensibility of the work by Mignola and Golden. Forgive the pun, but they are a bit of a Golden Team for me. I think their writing is seamless where I can't figure out which part Mignola wrote and what was written by Golden. The artwork is sober and dark in color, matching the unrelenting darkness of the literary tone of the stories. Baltimore is a lone hunter who travels with one goal in mind: finding Haigus, the vampire who turned him and destroyed his family. Along the way, he will destroy evil he encounters. His relationship with God is complicated. He still calls him Lord, but he has a palpable anger towards Him. Baltimore seethes with it. He shakes his fists at God, but doesn't curse him. He only asks that he be left alone to seek his vengeance. To my mind, God manages for him to be in the right place at the right time, a fierce warrior against darkness and evil creatures of all kinds. I am not saying I like an invincible hero all the time, but I appreciate how Baltimore always ends up in tight spots where I would expect him to be a goner, but he manages to survive, even if he adds a few more scars to the landscape of his body and face.
It's hard to rate this as a good book, in the sense that it's not at all feel-good. It's very depressing in a lot of ways. The vampire plague has left destruction in every place, and all manner of foul creatures prey on the humans who manage to survive the plague and aren't turned into vampires. So, no, it's not an uplifting read. However, the writing and the artwork are beautiful and has a penetrating effect on me as I read. An excellent example of how successful the graphic novel medium can be for storytelling. And since I don't get to read much Gothic/classic horror, lately, it satisfies my palate for the stories in a quick reading format, and the art-lover/artist in me.
I'm ever so grateful that I am able to get this from my library. These volumes would cost a pretty penny to buy new.
So, yes, I do recommend it to readers who aren't averse to a dark read. It's violent and at times visceral, but not at all over the top or graphic. As I said earlier in the review, it has the Gothic and Classic horror sensibility that any fans of 18th-early 20th century horror will appreciate.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we canChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
A good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredibA good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredible young woman who could have been his muse.
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn'tWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
I listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. II listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I found it hard to visualize some concepts. I honestly have no brain for mechanical concepts, so listening to descriptions of the mecha devices was difficult for me. I decided to stop analyzing and go with it. Not worry about trying to get a crystal clear image of those parts of the story, but just enjoy what I could understand. The ideas were interesting, but I was a bit clueless about what exactly made Clare what he was, and the exact interplay between his physiology and his abilities. At the end, I determined that he was heavily depending on the continual processing of information for his well-being, but he could think too much and end up in trouble. Perhaps he also has some enhanced sensory abilities which also make him susceptible to different environments.
While the magic system was very intriguing, it took me a long time to understand it or get a handle on it. I absolutely loved some parts. They were darkly beautiful. They inspired a deep sense of unease with the arcane natures of the magical acts and the beings perpetuating them, but also a sense of awe. While I have no real life interest in magic whatsoever, I do love reading about magic in this kind of fictional setting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact magic is so intrinsic to the fabric of Great Britain in this novel. It was very cool that the present monarch is a host for the spirit of Britannia. I haven't encountered that concept before.
As far as characters, Emma really came to life for me. She's such a complex person. She's a mix of good and bad, and her manner of interacting with others can inspire winces as often as wows. I loved how vigilant and fierce she was. She took her role as a Prime sorcerer very seriously, and her vow to protect Britain. And it often cost her personally. The scene near the end brought shivers down my spine. I also loved Mikhail. He was luscious. The way the moderator spoke his parts was utterly appealing. Especially the way he spoke to Emma and called her Prima. It sounded like a verbal caress. I was surprised at the direction that the author took with Emma's relationship with Mikhail. It added to the complexity of her character. I wish I had more answers about what Mikhail is. I have to be honest that he is a big draw for me right now, although I also find Emma very appealing as a heroine, although not always laudable in the way she acted towards some characters. Clare was interesting. I enjoyed his deductive reasoning and analysis of the very strange situations he encountered after being recruited by Emma as the sole surviving unregistered mentath. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't always 'get' what he was doing and how it affected him. I hope that will change with later books. I also liked Valetinelli. I have a fondness for roguish characters who are insanely good at being lethal. That's definitely him. The moderator made his voice very fun. He spoke with a blatant Italian accent that was lyrical and appealing.
I think the major reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was that I had a hard time getting a grasp on the story to the extent that I desired. I had a lot of questions. As far as the writing having an appeal and impact on me, that was very well done. Saintcrow has a way of bringing magical and arcane elements to vibrant life that stays with me. That imagery was very well depicted. As a visual reader, I could feel and experience the powerful magics that the characters employed, although some parts were just plain weird and my brain didn't know what to make of those. I also give this book points on having such a distinctive heroine. Not always pure in her motives, but underneath, driven to do what is right. That's a hard thing to conceptualize in a novel without polarizing your audience.
I have to give this 3.5 stars because it was flawed in some ways, but in others a very good book. I will continue this series with the hopes I will be enlightened on some of the world-building particulars and to explore more of Emma, Clare, and Mikhail, and not to mention, Supernatural Victorian Great Britain.
I wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the deeI wish I'd had time to read this during the past Christmas season, because it would be perfect to get a reader into the mood, and to reinforce the deep meanings of this beloved holiday.
Mr. Kirch is on point with the meaning of A Christmas Carol in this novella, and he lovingly does homage to it, while he takes the story forward in time to a family that very much needs to be reminded about the importance of family and love.
For a while, I was quite worried. I cried bitter tears, but I kept hope alive in my heart that Marley would do his magic to help little Kathy, a young girl with two bickering parents who often forget she's around. Kathy, Marley, and Tobias make this story, while parents Dan and Beverly make for some frustrating moments. But one of the most important truths of Christmas holds true here, that love is a miracle. A light that can enter into the darkest abyss, and its miraculous ability to change a human heart will ultimately triumph over the most hopeless of situations.
I enjoyed this story very much, and I recommend it to readers who love A Christmas Carol, and readers who like modern gothics and horror that bring to mind the classics in these genres.
Thanks to Donald Allen Kirch for the opportunity to read Marley-The Other Christmas Carol.
I give the author credit for putting a lot of heart, soul and energy into this story. It has a lot of authentic-feeling details, although I had troublI give the author credit for putting a lot of heart, soul and energy into this story. It has a lot of authentic-feeling details, although I had trouble with the initially slow-moving narrative. I really liked the intricate infusion of The Divine Comedy into the story. I would like to rate this higher, but it was just too hard for me to get into the story initially, and I didn't love the conclusion overall.
For that reason, I'd have to rate it 3.25/5.0 stars. It's hard when you don't love something someone has written with love. However, I have the feeling that this book will resonate with some readers.
The Name of the Star was a hit with me. Maureen Johnson got my attention as an author with her short story, "The Law of Suspects." It was utterly chilThe Name of the Star was a hit with me. Maureen Johnson got my attention as an author with her short story, "The Law of Suspects." It was utterly chilling and fantastic suspense. I appreciated how she writes with a respect for the intelligence of her readership, even though they are the YA audience. Like CS Lewis, I believe the best children's book is one that an adult can enjoy. I knew I was going to follow her after reading this brilliant short story. So when I saw this book was coming out, I was excited to read another full-length suspense novel by her. Let's just say that she's now two for two.
Are you into Jack the Ripper? I mean that in the best way. Meaning, do you have an interest in the mythos and story of Jack the Ripper? Many people do, so don't be ashamed if the answer is yes. The only reason I ask is because this is a book to check out if you do.
While this book is very thrilling suspense with a supernatural twist, it's also a funny coming of age story. Our heroine Rory is from Louisiana, and she has that sparkling Southern woman vibe that I find irresistible. I love her character's voice, the down to earth way she looks at life, and how she manages to find the wry humor in her situation. Johnson engaged me as a reader by giving me a protagonist that I started caring about on the first page of the story. She also pulled the British card, which will get me almost every time. Through in a modern story with a Gothic atmosphere and it makes for an irresistible read. She goes with a "Sixth Sense" theme, and like that movie, you don't quite catch on immediately, but when you do, it's a natural process. I can't say much more about that, because as River Song from Doctor Who says, "Spoilers!"
So yes, this was a hit for me. Such a marvelous concoction of suspense, humor, young adult emotions and situations, and yes, out and out terror in some parts of the book. Suspense builds wonderfully, adding to that gothic atmosphere until I was anxiously waiting for the next aspect of the story to be revealed. The villain is layered and complex, gradually revealed in a way that showed a lot more was going on than I thought. I really appreciated that, that wonderful feeling of finding I didn't have the answers all figured out until the very end when I was supposed to know all those things.
Well, I think I talked myself into giving this book five stars, even though I told myself I was going to be more rigorous about reviewing books and giving five stars.
People I recommend this book to:
*Ripperologists or Folks who are 'into' Jack the Ripper *Anglophiles *People who have an obsession with boarding school (like myself) *People who like Southerners and Southern philosophy on life *People who like sausage (you have to read to know where I am going with this) *People who like ghost stories *People who like 80s new wave like The Smiths and The Cure *People who like a good, well-written suspense novel *People who like fish out of water books, specifically Americans in Britain
If any of these things sound like you, read this book! I recommend it!...more
I'm going to put this book in the 'not bad, but could have been better' classification. I have my own perceptions about how young Sherlock Holmes woulI'm going to put this book in the 'not bad, but could have been better' classification. I have my own perceptions about how young Sherlock Holmes would be and this one isn't real close to my ideas. Yeah, I'm not sure I can clarify that right now, so I won't try. I just found the book disappointing in how it did craft young Holmes.
I did like the fact that Holmes has a mentor in an American who brings to mind a cross between Mark Twain and Wyatt Earp/Doc Holiday. Mr. Crow helps to develop Holmes' signature traits, deductive reasoning and a keenly analytical mind. It was interesting seeing how Holmes went from being a 'whatever/why is this important?' kid to the man who has an insatiable curiosity about the world and the burning desire to solve any puzzle that he encounters. I also liked Holmes' sidekick Matty Arnett. I have a feeling he will be accompanying Sherlock on more adventures in this series, and I'm very cool with that. I'd also like to see more of Mr. Crow. His daughter, Virginia, doesn't have quite as concrete a role, other than the horse-mad hoyden, would-be love interest, and perhaps, her tendency to bring out the impulsive adventurer in Sherlock.
What surprised me was how violent this book is. Personally, I would be wary about letting a child younger than thirteen read this. There are some fairly descriptive acts of brutality that I think would be a bit much for a younger reader. I was concerned that the exceedingly villainous bad guys who would torture a kid with a bullwhip in a book for a younger audience. It's a pretty drawn out scene too. Not to mention a nasty fist fight that Sherlock finds himself involved in, along with numerous altercations with the Big Bad's minions who have no qualms about murdering youngsters.
The main bad guy is suitably majestic, and really quite outre' in his madness and character quirks, almost over the top, in fact. I guess that could be fun, but his bombastic speech about wreaking vengeance against the British Empire was a bit tedious. Sometimes I get impatient with the "I am an Evil Overlord" speeches.
A big issue I did have was the pacing. I don't know. It just seemed uneven. I liked the action bits, for the most part, but I wasn't keen on how long it took Sherlock to figure things out. I realize that he's a young kid and he's just in the beginning of his long career as a detective, but I think he could have been a bit brighter in some circumstances. Happily, there is a good progression in his character over the course of the book.
Yeah, I know it, it's a problem of having too high expectations. Why do I do that to myself? That can burst a bubble or two for a reader. Would I recommend this? Hmmm, only if you really want to read about a young Sherlock Holmes, and your expectations aren't too grand. If you happen to be at the library and you can't find another book with a young detective to read, then you could reach for this one and it wouldn't be too much of a waste of your free time to read.