I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1st, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.
“Modern Sherlock retelling.” At the moment, it doesn’t take much more than that to get me salivating over a book. And I know that there is some skepticism if it could ever be done any better than the Every series by Ellie Marney, and whether people should even bother trying anymore. Well I absolutely loved Cavallaro’s take on the concept and I believe it’s a retelling worth reading.
There’s one big thing that sets A Study in Charlotte apart from the rest – here, Sherlock is female. Charlotte is an actual descendant of Sherlock Holmes, and James is a descendant of John Watson. The story is told from James’s point of view, while Charlotte is the oddball genius whose mind is on another level entirely. I loved that the characters Sherlock and John were real in this world, because it creates such a colorful backstory for the main characters. It may seem a little convenient and forced at times because they resemble their ancestors SO MUCH – even Charlotte’s brother is a veritable Mycroft who holds nuclear launch codes and stuff – but the storytelling absolutely worked for me.
So Charlotte and James end up at the same boarding school in the US, and though they had never met before, they are definitely aware of each other and their family histories. They meet and get off to a pretty rough start, but when a murder hits the campus and they are both the most likely suspects, they start to become friends. It’s a slow build, but because they just understand each other so well and feel protective and defensive of each other, they end up best friends. Are you awwing yet? Because I was absolutely awwing. And my shippy feels were not far behind.
I loved this story a lot for those characters and the way that relationship builds. Probably my favorite part. I mean, they are not carbon copies of their ancestors. They do face modern day problems. And Charlotte has a history that crushed my feels but made her so impressive and endearing. Female Sherlock ftw. She faces sexist views, family pressures, and one supreme douchebag at school, but she keeps being fiercely herself. (Maybe the drug habit went a bit far at such a young age, but it’s Sherlock. Didn’t find it unbelievable.) And she and Jamie have such a great rapport, some banter, some hilarity… they’re a GREAT team.
But what also impressed me was the mystery part of it. First of all, the crimes that start occurring on their campus resemble old Sherlock Holmes stories. So it made it kind of like a fun scavenger hunt to discover who was framing them and why. Second, my pet peeve of YA mysteries is when teens start investigating without the authorities, because they don’t trust them, they’re too stupid, yadda yadda yadda. A Study in Charlotte is not like that. They actually team up with the local detective and work together in a smart and (mostly) realistic way. That made it so much more fun and compulsively readable, because I wasn’t continuously thinking about how far-fetched it was.
The stakes do get rather high too. There were a couple moments when my heart leaped up in my throat and I clenched my fingers hoping they would be okay – which is precisely the perfect effect that a mystery should have. Overall this was just a really well-rounded story, equal parts fun and thrilling. And that for a debut! Wow. I can’t wait to see what happens next.