Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G S Denning
|Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G S Denning|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: What if Holmes was not a genius of deduction, but actually a Warlock? Would the tales of this great detective be that much different? Denning explores the more supernatural elements of the Sherlock Holmes stories and you may be surprised how well it works.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: May 2016|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
A wise fictional character once said that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. With this in mind – what is Sherlock Holmes? A genius eccentric whose mind works on a different plain, or perhaps the more obvious option is that he was a Warlock? Surely his ability to see what others cannot is more likely to be through magic, rather than intellect?
Meet Warlock Holmes. That's right, Warlock. These are the continuing tales of Holmes and Dr John Watson, who use their deductive powers to solve seemingly impossible cases. However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Warlock – for all his intellect he sometimes comes across as a little dim and why do doors seem to explode when he is around?
There is no doubt that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was onto a winner when he invented Sherlock Holmes and the character proves as profitable today as when his initial stories were released. Now that Watson et al are out of copyright, new adventures are being written by a multitude of authors, but G S Denning has decided rather than writing new stories, he will go back and reinterpret the originals – this time with Sherlock as Warlock, a similar, but not the same, character.
Warlock Holmes, A Study in Brimstone is a wonderful balance of humour, fantasy and respect for the original text. Within this book are several classic short stories retold. The principle is simple; Holmes was not a genius, but instead had magical powers. This means that Watson's role as narrator was to retell the stories to make them more palatable for the general public, but in Brimstone we get the unvarnished truth.
By sticking surprisingly close to the original cases, Denning has given himself a firm bedrock on which to build his fantastical world. There are autobots, vampires and ogres, but they all seem to fit quite nicely into polite Victorian society by merely playing on the human ability to self-deny what they have seen. There are some great scenes in the book that have Watson frantically covering up for Holmes as he partakes in some peculiar mischief that is hard to explain.
Alongside the amusing antics is a series of short crime stories that work on both a supernatural and mystery level. Holmes was always quite gothic and all Denning needed to do was push some of the more fantastical elements. It makes sense that Watson covered things up in the original text by making Holmes seem like a genius. In these books, it is actually Watson who has a reasonable mind.
Throughout the book, there are hints of a greater whole. Watson is narrating as if from a future that has led to the world's end. As the adventures continue the malevolent presence of Moriarty will become more prevalent and a larger story will emerge that links all the short stories together into a whole.
Taking a true classic and twisting it into fantasy does not always work; either too much respect is given to the original, or too little. Denning has managed a brilliant balance and has rewritten the stories in a way that is true to the original but also has a strangely believable fantasy element. When you really think about it; Sherlock could actually have been a Warlock and Denning makes you believe.
For another classic reinvented try Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith or more information on the evolution of Holmes can be discovered in Eliminate the Impossible: An Examination of the World of Sherlock Holmes on Page and Screen by Alistair Duncan and Steve Emecz. You might also appreciate Warlock Holmes - The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by G S Denning.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G S Denning at Amazon.com.
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