A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro | Rating: ★★★★★
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
“You’ve never seen Watson and Holmes like this before.”–never has there ever been a tagline that rings so true. In a world where Sherlock Holmes is commonly found in various forms of literature, film and television (currently, two adaptations of the works are airing on television), one would think that it’s all been done before and that though the stories and mysteries are iconic, it is time to put this great detective to rest.
(I disagree, of course. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?)
A Study in Charlotte, penned by Brittany Cavallaro, is a new and fresh take on everyone’s favorite detective and targeted towards a younger crowd, as it follows two of the great-great-great-grandchildren of Holmes and Watson. In this delightful mystery, we witness Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, find one another at their exclusive Connecticut prep school.
For Jamie and Charlotte, their world is very much like our own, just with a few changes. I enjoyed the concept of Holmes and Watson having been actual people (as opposed to fictional characters) and that for years, Jamie and Charlotte were seemingly fated to meet-as everyone insists on introducing members of both families due to their iconic connections to one another in the past.
We even have mention of the Moriarty family, as well. Everything is tied in together and I loved seeing how it came together.
As for our Watson: Jamie’s a very thoughtful narrator (and aspiring writer) and the interactions between himself and Charlotte are very fun to read. It was funny seeing mention of how, when he was little, he'd imagine that one day he would meet Charlotte and the two would solve mysteries together, have adventures. I liked that it was always in his mind and yet none of it compared to what would really happen to make that possible.
As for Charlotte, she is entirely a Holmes. Everything you'd expect from a character related to Sherlock, you get in both her and her brother Milo. I loved seeing how quick she was on her feet, how detached she'd seemed here and there (and why), I loved that we didn't gloss over her problems and addictions and how she was sent to boarding school in the first place.
They are both incredibly flawed; incredibly obtainable to the audience the more we get to know them. Although their initial meeting is shaky, their bond grows as time passes and the two find themselves thrown together after–gasp–a murderer is on the loose and seemingly framing the two.
Everyone is a suspect and it’s really cool seeing how it all unfolds. In true Sherlock fashion, nothing is as it seems and because they are who they are–because Charlotte has been solving tings since she was young; she is a Holmes after all–the story passes us by, subtle hints scattered here and there.
My favorite part was Charlotte’s quick wit and her ability to see things others can’t see. Again, she is a Holmes and her observations are so awesome to look at. And her backstory? My poor, poor darling–you’re going to get attached to her rather quickly and that’s a wonderful thing.
In many ways, A Study in Charlotte could be quite dull and yes, a bit cliche; but Cavallaro brings to life these two teenagers and allows their connection to grow on its own through teenage angst, conflicting emotions and the solving of mystery. If this novel was done by any author besides this one, the story would have never worked.
I liked that Charlotte and Jamie were very much so characters in their own right and although they are most certainly a pair that parallels their grandparents, their reactions are of their own. They’re both a mix of warm and cold and well developed.
You can’t help but to love them just as you love the original Watson and Holmes.
And of course, I have to say that in true Sherlock fashion I didn’t see the end until it came and then felt utterly silly for not seeing bits of hinting. Which is, well, awesome and kind of made me grin like a giddy child.
Although I had my reservations at the start and didn’t get too into it until a chapter or two had past, I enjoyed the story a lot. If you are looking for some light reading, a good and solid mystery with a lot of witty lines and great characters A Study in Charlotte should surely be next on your list of reads. I recommend this one to everyone, really, and urge you to pick up your copy come March.
(I really want more of these two. Brittany Cavallaro, this NEEDS to be the beginning to a series.)