Friday, 26 June 2015

Book Review: Death Cloud

'Death Cloud' by Andrew Lane

Rating: 1 Stars

This book disappointed me, which in turn had me disappointed with myself. I assumed I would love it - an insight into the early years of Sherlock Holmes before coming into the character everyone universally recognises today. 'Death Cloud' did not do that for me.

Sherlock had about as much personality as my little finger. And honestly, I think that is an insult to my finger. I liked the idea of him having a mentor who would teach him how to think, but I found Sherlock a bit stupid to begin with. Understandably, the intention was likely to be that he would grow more into the likeness of Conan Doyle's character within the duration of the book, but by age fourteen, the foundations for the character he would become just weren't there.

Perhaps the intention behind the lack of character development and forced, unnecessarily added 'potential' romance was for it to be explored later in the series (I am almost certain Virginia has no other purpose than to be a love interest), but even taking that into account, there was still very little that actually happened.

The mystery was intriguing at first, but as plans were unveiled, it just sounded more and more ridiculous. The villain's chances of even being alive in the first place were minimal, the way in which he was supported seemed incredibly inconvenient and impossible, his motives were weak (spoilers: you were at war with the British, what did you think they'd do when you fell off your horse - help you up?), and his plan would have never succeeded to begin with. And then there was the last minute 'accidental' giveaway of a society that the villain was a part of which, again, was simply setting up for a series. In the last pages of a book, I do not want new information that will be useless to the plot.

Maybe for a child who had never heard of Sherlock Holmes or cared much for logical villains would enjoy this tale, and so if you are twelve years old or simply very easily impressed, this book is for you.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Book Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

'The Beekeeper's Apprentice' by Laurie R. King

Rating: 3 Stars

This was a fun read. I would have never imagined a character as incredible as Sherlock Holmes to find anyone even coming close to being his match other than Miss Irene Adler, but somehow 15-year-old Mary Russell does it with ease.

Written from the perspective of Mary, King provides a whole new dimension to Conan Doyle's stories, giving the perspective of a character who is near to being Holmes' equal. I loved Holmes and Russell's friendship, but was saddened by Watson's lack of relevance to the story. Seeing the world through Mary's eyes gave a whole new perspective to Holmes' thinking process, still, I cannot forgive the huge disregard for Watson as a character, for he was a far more relatable narrator.

Possibly the main reason I struggled to relate to Mary, and also the reason I could not give this book 5 stars was a result of the forced themes. King is clearly both a theist and a feminist, and in turn, so is Mary. But despite getting more of an insight into Holmes' mind that Watson could ever provide, we receive none such insight for the narrator herself. Perhaps a mention of religion here and there, or a partial feminist viewpoint, but nothing on what this actually meant to Mary or even relating to the book itself. If Mary's opinions were cut out, nothing about the story would change because these ideas seemed so separate to the book. They just weren't woven in, when they easily could have been.

Mary was too perfect. Not once did she question her beliefs or even attempt to justify them. And the reason: because although she was an orphan, she had a pretty great life. Money, beauty, and never experiencing any oppression to fuel her feminist mindset. To put it simply, she lacked depth.

But one could argue that I'm looking too far into this, as the real focus is the mystery - one worthy of Conan Doyle and reflecting his style beautifully, giving some ideas a bit of a twist to create another overall impressive insight into the world of Sherlock Holmes.

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