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Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane. Book Review

August 7, 2016

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell

Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson take up an investigation of a missing person, who has apparently disappeared from a locked room. This seems to be another intriguing mystery for the pair, but the game is truly afoot because the gates of Hell seem to be opening up to land the two intrepid investigators literally, in the most diabolical plot.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is what is known as a mashup, in other words it is a novel that combines two existing literary texts, that of the Sherlock Holmes canon and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.

I am a great fan of Sherlock Holmes, which never seems to grow jaded no matter how many times I read the stories. However, I haven’t read any of Clive Barker’s work, so this review had to be done primarily from the perspective of knowing the Sherlock Holmes original stories and being prepared to find fault with this new version. But after reading this novel I really feel I must find Hellraiser and take a good look at it. This, in itself, probably says a great deal about how well Paul Kane has adapted the Holmes’ legend.

The concept of merging two literary works would appear to be the recipe for disaster, but it has been done very successfully by other authors and Kane has certainly reworked the concept of the Homes and Watson partnership very well.

In many ways keeping to a similar tone of the original Homes stories related largely through the eyes of Watson makes it possible to go to town on the description of the grotesque creatures, necessary for the horror element to work), without making the process feel like exposition. When we do get to see the events through Holmes’ eyes the narrative rings true and provides an interesting perspective through which to see Holmes’ world. The constant shifts in perspective also make it possible to really develop more of the inner thoughts of both Holmes and Watson, as well as their characters in a way that remains respectful to the original.

There is also a wonderful sense of this being a type of Victorian melodrama, particularly with the scrapes Watson becomes involved in. Whereas Holmes willingly stares into the abyss, Watson, as usual gets dragged body and soul into it and his bravery, usually implied through his actions in the original Holmes stories, is really brought to the fore as the doctor really get puts through it.

Like the original stories Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell provides plenty of events and characters to go back through during future readings.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell was courtesy of Solaris via NetGalley

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