Sherlock Revisited

So I’ve been on this total Sherlock Holmes and Great Britain kick lately. I’m a total Anglophile, though not so bad that I stayed up for the royal wedding a few months ago. 🙂 At any rate, I got started on this by watching BBC’s new Sherlock series. If you haven’t watched it, Netflix it. Now. I’ll wait.

Done? Fantastic! And so is that show. So sad I don’t get BBC America, but I digress. I’m here to pick up an anthology called The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This was a collection of short stories featuring the worlds greatest detective as written by fantasy authors. There are well known authors such as Steven King and Neil Gaiman, as well as a bunch of folks I hadn’t heard of.

Arthur Conan Doyle was a spiritualist and as such, he worked some of his beliefs into his Holmes stories, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, which featured the mystery of a demonic hound. Holmes himself wasn’t a spiritualist and indeed proved the hound to be nothing more than a violently trained dog covered in a phosphoric substance. Inevitably in the Holmes stories, there is always a reasonable and logical explanation.

This anthology was based on the premise: What if there wasn’t a logical explanation? What if some of the things Holmes investigated turned out to be truly inexplicable? Or what if the world Holmes lived in featured the supernatural in every day life. This was a chance to go to town with Holmes.

The book started out promisingly enough with a short by Stephen King. Normally I’m not a Stephen King fan. An ex-boyfriend of mine gave me a collection of King’s short stories, telling me that they were creepy and horrifying. I used them to get to sleep at night. It wasn’t that I didn’t get what King was going for. I did. I just found his writing a bit too trite and predictable for me. I’m the type of person who figured out that Bruce Willis was ghost half way through The Sixth Sense, so the short Trucks didn’t do it for me.

At any rate, Stephen King wrote a refreshingly subtle and original Holmes short. It wasn’t too different than something that Doyle would write I feel (and yes, I have read the original Holmes. All of them. I love them) but with just a little bit of a spiritual twist.  I was a feeling better about having spent 15 bucks on the book.

The next story (or perhaps the third, can’t remember the order at the moment) featured a mirror universe. Being a Trek fan, I know that alternate or mirror universes are often used in sci-fi/fantasy stories. I like them because you can see the what if but you can get the original that you love back.  Haven’t you ever wondered with an evil Holmes or a good Moriarty would be like? Well, read the book! 😀

I was a little disappointed however by some of the later stories. Some of them didn’t really seem to have anything to do with science fiction or fantasy at all. That’s not to say that they weren’t entertaining or well written, but I was expecting a bit more fantasy in a book I found in the fantasy section of the book store.

All in all it was worth the read. The writing was very well done (B/B+). However, I have to give it an overall rating of C+ simply because there could have been much more fantasy involved in some of these stories. And man, they should have let Jim Butcher have a crack at one of those stories!

New Books

Okay, it’s been a massively long time since I’ve last updated my blog here.  Work, work, work and a nasty respiratory infection will do that to you. So instead of just one book, I’ll review a few books/series.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. This is the next installment of the October Daye series.  I was waiting so long for this one, or so it felt. I really love this series. Toby Daye is a fairly complex character and her relationships are equally complex.  This book is about Toby trying to figure out who or what is killing off her friends and trying to frame her for it. Not only that, but she has recently been promoted to Countess of the knowe Goldengreen. This knowe previously belonged to Countess Evelyn Winterrose, who died in the first book and brought Toby back into the Fae fold. It was a wonderful mystery, and a bit sad too. I can’t wait to read the next book! Rating: A.

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton. This is book 5 or 6 of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. I can’t remember because I stopped in the middle and I haven’t gone back yet. It isn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, because it is starting out to be another wonderful book. Truth was I just needed a break from Anita Blake. Anita’s werewolf ex Richard is being set up as a murderer in Tennessee and Anita is determined to help, against Jean-Claude’s wishes. So far, it’s a solid B book.

A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang. This was an interesting premise. Heroine Abby is living in a town where the supernatural is a part of every day life. Supernatural creatures can only come and go in this town through Touchstones, sort of like magical anchors. Abby is a Touchstone for a Faerie named Moira. Trouble is, Abby is spectacularly ignorant and gets in way over her head when patron Moira disappears. There are incubi, angels (called Celestials), Faeries, pixies, miniature unicorns and more.  Like I said, interesting premise. The writing could be a bit better. I’m mildly interested in seeing what happens next in the series, but I’m not going to be running out to get the next book. More likely I’ll wait until I’m desperate for something new to read. Rating: C-.

Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge. This is the next installment of the Black London series. I like this series because its very gritty. It’s kind of reminiscent of the old pulp novel.  Both main characters, Jack and Pete, are hard living, drinking, smoking, cussing people. The novel starts out with Jack having been dragged to Hell (end of the last novel) and Pete trying to pick up the pieces. Trouble is, being Jack’s girl is closing more doors than it opens. I really want to see what happens in the next novel. Rating: A to A+.

That’s all for now. More in the next post. If anyone has suggestions, I’m looking for new books to read.