Anew is the first in the Archers of Avalon trilogy that follows the story of seventeen year old Scarlet Jacobs and twin brothers Gabriel and Tristan A...moreAnew is the first in the Archers of Avalon trilogy that follows the story of seventeen year old Scarlet Jacobs and twin brothers Gabriel and Tristan Archer. We meet Scarlet when she wakes up in the woods outside of Avalon, Georgia. She's fifteen and she knows her name, but nothing else. Not how she got there or where she came from. Skip ahead two years and Scarlet's been taken in by her guardian, Laura and goes to high school with her best friend Heather like any other teen girl. She meets the smart, handsome, funny, endearing, mysterious etc Gabriel at Avalon's annual Kissing Festival (!) and the two strike up a relationship. Gabriel has secrets, though, including a twin brother that might hold the key to Scarlet's missing memories and her life before Avalon. However, the closer she gets to Gabriel and Tristan and the closer she gets to unlocking her memories, she finds herself in more and more danger with less and less time.
There are aspects of this book that I genuinely enjoyed and other aspects left me looking for a bridge from which to suspend my disbelief.
This book is not at all what I expected. Now, I love all things Sherlock Holmes, so the premise of a pair of brothers who work from the famed 221b Bak...moreThis book is not at all what I expected. Now, I love all things Sherlock Holmes, so the premise of a pair of brothers who work from the famed 221b Baker Street address and respond to letters sent to the Great Detective really sounded like my cup of tea. It was a little surprising and a little disappointing to discover that ninety-five percent of the book doesn't have the brothers working together and doesn't even take place in London. The majority of the story follows older brother Reggie as he tracks younger brother Nigel who is in turn tracking a young woman who wrote to Sherlock Holmes some twenty years before.
Reggie is our reluctant detective, starting his journey not in the interest of the letter writer but in the interest of corralling his young brother and setting his life to rights. The first part of the novel I felt dragged and was a little flat...Reggie follows the path before him and rides around in a lot of taxis. The prose seems sparse, and not in a Robert B. Parker sense of sparse, but I felt Robertson shortchanged the potential in his setting and his supporting characters.
Things start to pick up significantly mid-way through the book when Reggie is no longer on his own and the supporting characters become more important. Reggie does start coming into his own as he pulls the threads together and makes some sacrifices to see it through to the conclusion.
Reggie grew on me through the course of the story. At first he seems very flat for a lead, but one of the things I like about him is that he proves to be a man of action as far as the investigation is concerned. Robertson applies a very deft hand at Reggie's character development and his deductive skills as they grow, although he retains several flaws.
I will definitely be reading the next in the series, hoping for the brothers to be working together, fewer taxi rides, and some fleshed out characterizations. (less)
In the country, Sherlock finds his relatives are a bit odd and there's an evil old woman heading the staff of servants. Mysterious deaths occur both i...moreIn the country, Sherlock finds his relatives are a bit odd and there's an evil old woman heading the staff of servants. Mysterious deaths occur both in the village and on the Holmes property, and in order to fit the puzzle pieces together, Sherlock will need the assistance of a new found friend and a newly acquired mentor. He might even have a conversation with a girl, if he's lucky.
When I first finished reading Death Cloud, I gave it three out of five stars. It's definitely an enjoyable romp. Sherlock is fourteen in this story, and his age and the writing style gear it towards middle/tween readers more than older YA, which is what I had anticipated when I picked up the title. However, there's a fair share of violence in the story and relatively graphic imagery, which may overwhelm a more squeamish tween reader. There are several Americanisms, and the writing can sometimes lean towards too young, at least for my reading tastes. My friend and co-worker Amy suggested that any Americanisms might have been changes made by the publisher, such as they did with the Harry Potter series. She may well be correct, as the first three or four books in this series are already out in the UK, and the second one is just being released in the states this month. The title of the second book in this series has also been changed for American audiences.
If this is true, publishers, to you I say jog on. Give me the Britishness.
Also three stars for Sherlock not being quite...Sherlock enough. I understand that this is an exploration of his formative days, but he was a little too removed from the final Holmes that we see for me to buy it. He started coming into it near the end, with some of the arrogance he displays, but over all he just wasn't Sherlock enough for me.
Of course, I may be biased towards the amazing sociopath version of Holmes portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock right now.
Also, I will tell you that this series is trying very much to not contradict anything in the actual cannon of Doyle's Holmes. This means that there's no Watson in this story, and can't be (at least directly) in any of the books to come as Holmes and Watson don't meet until Stamford introduces them in A Study in Scarlet. This, for me, is sad, because I love Watson possibly more than I love Holmes. So less a star for that.
Also, there's a girl. Sherlock's mentor, who is an awesome character I have to say, has a teenage daughter named Virginia in whom Sherlock forms an interest. Virginia in and of herself is a well written character. She's smart and spunky, and is not impressed with Sherlock's deductive skills. It isn't her character that annoys me, it's the fact that she's thrown in to be a romantic plot driver, or at least a crush for a character that will wind up only acknowledging Irene Adler as The Woman. Maybe for teens reading this who haven't read cannon that won't be a deal. It will be interesting to see how Lane develops this in further volumes. I don't know if Virginia was written as to attract female readers to the series, or to be the token pretty girl for the male readers. At least she's got personality, I have to give Lane that much.
At any rate, after a day or two of chewing on it, I decided to up it to four stars. The plot is very well done and the villain is pretty twisty. I do like me a twisty villain. Clearly set up as a precursor to the future Moriarty role, Lane's antagonist is sufficiently sadistic and rather cunning. The overall "evil plan" might be a little far fetched, but the action and adventure carry it along well enough to go with it.
Points for overall action and adventure, too. Sherlock doesn't back down from a fight, even when he should, which leads to some amusing and nail biting encounters.
Mycroft gets some attention in this, which I love, and he's portrayed very well.
Andy Lane clearly did his homework, which was the final boost up to four stars for this one. There are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of nods to Doyle's cannon, from bees to boxing to a veiled reference to Holmes' future friendship with Watson. As a Doyle fangirl, I approve.