Wednesday, March 9, 2016

look at her go: reviewin reviewin: a study in charlotte

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro



synopsis: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.

full review under the cut!

I am, and have been for years, a total Sherlock Holmes junkie. I own multiple copies of all of Conan Doyle's stories, have been obsessed with Sherlock and Elementary since they premiered, watched the movies from the 30's, watched the movies with Robert Downey Jr., and was initially introduced to the detective by way of Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. For literally over half of my life, I have thought of Sherlock Holmes as one of my top five favorite characters ever. So. When I heard about this YA book about Sherlock and Watson's descendants, I said "SIGN ME UP, LIKE, NOW" and never looked back. And guys, this book did not disappoint. I am so thankful that it did not disappoint.

One of my favorite parts of this entire novel was the fact that the Holmes children are named Charlotte and Milo... the irony of those names is not lost on me. (think of how much they sound like Sherlock and Mycroft... i'm dead) that's just something little, but something that I really appreciated about this book!

Basically, this is a book about Sherlock and Watson's descendants. The Holmeses are still wealthy, powerful, whip-smart, and prone to attract murder. The Watsons are perfectly normal, except for the fact that they have this inescapable connection to the Holmeses. Jamie Watson was born in America, raised in London, and is sent to Connecticut, against his will, to attend boarding school on a rugby scholarship. Sent, in fact, to the very school that Charlotte Holmes attends. Charlotte is cold, manipulative, and shares quite a few traits with the famous detective himself. Jamie, of course, is fascinated by her, but it seems that she wants no part of a friendship between the two of them. But, when a student that both of them are known to hate turns up dead, Watson and Holmes must band together to prove that they are not the murderers. Especially when the crimes are coming straight from the pages of Dr. Watson's stories.

I really liked the relationship between Charlotte and Jamie. It kind of reminded me of the BBC version of Sherlock, because basically what happens is that they meet and from that point on, they are inseparable. I love the fact that they bicker and push each other: I just thought that, despite Charlotte being obviously on a whole different plane intellectually, they were pretty well balanced in their relationship. Jamie helps Charlotte, especially with her drug problem and her self-doubt, and Charlotte gives Jamie a true friend and a place to belong. It was really great to read, even when they were fighting.

Also, I totally didn't think about it before, but when Charlotte mentions the Moriarties, I was like of course!! Before I started it, I didn't think about the fact that, if Watson and Sherlock have descendants, then of course Moriarty would as well, and all three of these families would've gotten tangled up over the years. I loved the cool twist of throwing another family in the mix, and not even as the villain (spoiler! for the most part... the end was p cool though). I just really liked how Charlotte and Jamie's lives are shaping up to parallel the detective and the doctor themselves. I liked all the references to the original stories, the personality traits that were similar, and the updated but similar mystery.

One of the things that struck me while reading this is that it has a different overall mood than a lot of YA books that I read. Granted, I don't usually read crime or thriller YA, but all the same, this was something fresh that I really enjoyed. It had dry, sarcastic humor and some twinges of romance, but overall, the tone was pretty dark without veering into depressing or grotesque. Obviously, we're dealing with some murder and attempted murder, so the tone isn't going to be light and happy, but I just found myself getting really sucked in to the mystery and the mood of this. I think Cavallaro did a great job of balancing the fact that these MCs are teenagers with the dark stuff (drugs, rape, murder) that they're dealing with. A job well done on that, for sure.

As for the mystery, it has as many twists as you'd expect from a Holmes story, circling back several times until we end up in a semi-expected place, but by way of an extremely unexpected path. I thought the reveal at the end was great, not completely shocking, but not exactly foreseen either. I loved the deduction parts, because that's always one of my favorite parts of Holmes, and when Charlotte was trying to teach Jamie to tell when people are lying, that was great. There are a lot of gem-like moments in this book, as well as the overall mystery arc being really great. The supporting characters, from Jamie's dad to the detective to Mrs. Dunham to Milo to Tom and Lena, made the story feel even richer. I will definitely 100% be continuing on with this series, I think it is a really fresh and interesting idea, and I absolutely would recommend it to you!



  1. This is the first review I've read of someone that is familiar and a fan of the original SH! Glad you liked this one being able to make the necessary comparisons. Lovely review!!


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