The basics: The first in a new young adult trilogy, A Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes, a descendant of Sherlock Holmes, and Jamie Watson, a descendant of Dr. Watson, as students at a Connecticut boarding school.
My thoughts: I typically file Sherlock Holmes under the "things I simply don't really like--but people with similar taste always seem to love." And I haven't read a young adult novel in several years. So what made me pick up a young adult Sherlock Holmes-inspired mystery? Brittany Cavallaro's Twitter bio.
Despite not really caring for most adaptations or appropriations of Sherlock Holmes I've encountered, I really like the smart ways Cavallaro uses Holmes. Most importantly, she makes Holmes and Watson real people. Sometimes I have to remind myself my favorite characters aren't real people, and after so many years and iterations, doesn't it seem like Holmes and Watson were real? I also liked that Charlotte is a teenage girl. She's appropriately flawed, but she is also badass. She shares many of the traditional Sherlock Holmes traits, including his predilection for opiates. And it works.
While this novel is in many ways a fascinating character study with traces of a family saga for the Holmeses and Watsons, the mystery at the center of it is pretty clever. Someone is staging crimes to look exactly like the famous crimes the original Holmes and Watson solved. Someone is framing Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson. I suspect fans of Sherlock Holmes will spot the clues before they're explained, but those unfamiliar with them will make sense of them through Jamie and Charlotte's dialogue.
Audiobook thoughts: One small quibble--part of the reason I opted for the audio was because I find myself gravitating toward multiple narrators. I kept waiting (and waiting) for Julia Whelan to narrate. I don't know if I would've expected Charlotte to get a turn telling the story simply because I knew there was a female narrator or not, but we don't hear from Charlotte until the very end. It works well within the story, but as a listener, knowing there were two narrators made me wonder when the second narrator would appear.
The verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook, and I'm curious to see where Cavallaro goes in the next two volumes in the trilogy. The story is engaging, the characters are cleverly constructed, and the mystery was compelling.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 8 hours 41 minutes (336 pages)
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy A Study in Charlotte from Amazon (Kindle edition.)
Want more? Visit Brittany Cavallaro's website and follow her on Twitter.
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