This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge.
Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud (as it is known in English) by Andrew Lane takes place in the 1860’s with a fourteen-year-old schoolboy Sherlock Holmes solving his very first mysterious case.
As someone who has grown up with the original Sherlock Holmes canon and more recent TV regenerations of the sleuth from Baker Street, I was intrigued by this book.
Sherlock is meant to spend the summer with his aunt in the country, and the teenager couldn’t be more bored by that prospect.
The case Sherlock comes across involved a mysterious cloud, which descends on people and leaves them dead and covered in boils. However, at age 14, Sherlock’s world-famous deductive skills are still seriously lacking. His sidekick is not a teenaged version of John Watson but a boy called Matty. And while Matty is a great character and their friendship is nicely written, Sherlock is disappointing for fans of the sleuth.
Young Sherlock Holmes is not at all what I expected. While I find the concept of a teenaged Sherlock really intriguing, it is hard to reconcile this young boy who suggests rather than deduces and has a love interest with the well-known adult Sherlock Holmes everyone knows. If the premise of a book is the childhood of one of the best known fictional detectives ever, I would expect that at least some part of the story hints at what shaped this teenager into the aloof, friendless and highly analytical sleuth people know.
A Sherlock Holmes story – no matter how old the protagonist happens to be – should be clever, witty, interesting, and at the end baffling. Unfortunately, this novel is none of that. Granted, the plot is original, as are most of the characters, but the character of Sherlock feels wrong for true fans. It reads like sophisticated fanfiction, and – dare I say it? – there’s more convincing fanfiction out there which explores Sherlock’s childhood in Victorian England. If the protagonist had any other name, I doubt I would have recognised that he’s meant to be the detective.
My Rating: ♥♥
Title: Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud
Author: Andrew Lane
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: June 4, 2010