In April’s ‘The Missing Clue’, I talked about Sherlock Holmes pastiches featuring women. It turns out that as many as there are for adults, there are at least as many aimed at the young adult (YA) market that adults will find equally engaging. Sherlock Holmes apparently has a sister, a granddaughter, and several nieces, among others, who inherited his gift for solving crimes. Please note, some small spoilers about the identity of the protagonists is necessary to discuss the titles in question (and nothing more than you’d find in the description of each book online) but beware if you really want to be surprised.
We were lucky enough to host Toronto author Angela Misri for an event at the store a few years back in honour of her ‘Portia Adams’ series. After the death of her mother, 19-year-old Portia is whisked to London in high-style by her mysterious new guardian to 221 Baker Street. At first, she believes herself to be the granddaughter of Dr. John Watson, but it soon becomes clear to the reader that she more closely resembles the great detective himself. The end of JEWEL OF THE THAMES, the first book in the series, reveals that her guardian is Irene Adler and that Adler and Holmes are her grandparents. This is a great series for young Sherlock fans, as there’s no objectionable content. I had fun imagining Irene Adler as an older lady. I thoroughly enjoyed JEWEL OF THE THAMES, and I look forward to reading THRICE BURNED and NO MATTER HOW IMPROBABLE. We’ve got all three in the store in trade paperback.
It’s hard to imagine Sherlock Holmes having a mother, but if he had a brother, he could just as easily have had a sister. Nancy Springer’s ‘Enola Holmes’ series posits that Mrs. Holmes had a much younger daughter named Enola. On her 14th birthday, Enola’s mother disappears, and she is forced to summon her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. When it becomes clear that Sherlock is only focused on finding his estranged mother and Mycroft wants to send her away to school, Enola decides to take matters into her own hands. While lots of Sherlock pastiches feature characters who closely resemble Sherlock, the similarity is less obvious to Enola herself, at any rate. I really liked THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS, the first in the series. I enjoyed the inclusion of Mycroft into the mix, as he is a particular favorite of mine (I’m thinking especially of Laurie R. King’s Mycroft). There are six books in this series, all available to order and most for under $11. It’s a little more sophisticated than the Misri series, but will still appeal to young adult readers as well as grownups. If you enjoy a graphic novel, the first book has been adapted into the format and ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS will be released in October 2018.
A confession here: I never actually finished A STUDY IN SILKS by Emma Jane Holloway. Which is a surprise because it ticks ALL my boxes. It’s a Sherlock Pastiche, starring a woman (in this case Sherlock Holmes’ niece Evelina), and it has a steampunk slant. That said, I’m planning on diving back in because maybe it was an off day. I should also mention that I’m including it in this YA roundup rather than April’s Adult titles because I really felt like it read as YA. At any rate, all three books in the series are available for order in mass market and we’ve got a single copy of A STUDY IN SILKS in used for one lucky reader.
Another niece and another series I haven’t read, but I’m including it because it’s on my ‘To Read’ pile and we have some in stock. Colleen Gleason’s ‘Stoker & Holmes’ series features Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram, and Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, so you can expect vampires and detection of crimes. This is another steampunk series and we’ve got two out of four titles in stock (THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB and THE CHESS QUEEN ENIGMA).
I started reading THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER because Deanna Raybourn recommended it in her monthly newsletter, without any sense it related to my Sherlock Holmes project at all. And yet Sherlock himself turns up as a major character (if I had to take a guess, he’s meant to be a love interest as the series progresses). But don’t read this book for the Sherlock connection. Read it because it’s really excellent and a clever concept. It’s too complicated a premise to explain in a sentence, but it begins with Dr. Jekyll’s daughter finding Mr. Hyde’s daughter hidden away in a nunnery, paid for by Mrs. Jekyll. It’s got very much the same flavor as my favorite book of 2017, Vivian Shaw’s STRANGE PRACTICE, but with a historical setting. Also not technically YA, but appropriate for older readers on the YA spectrum. We’ve got more copies of THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER en route in trade paperback and we’ll be getting book #2, EUROPEAN TRAVEL FOR THE MONSTROUS GENTLEWOMAN, in July.
For all the Sherlock Pastiches, very few have contemporary settings. There is Michael Robertson’s ‘Baker Street Letters’ series, of course, but when we think of modern Sherlock retellings, we think immediately of the excellent BBC reimagining starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Charlotte Holmes is a direct descendent of the great detective (her great-great-great-grandfather). Likewise, Jamie Watson is the great-great-great-grandson of Dr. John Watson. When they end up at the same Connecticut boarding school and a classmate is murdered, the inevitable pairing results.
A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE was one of those books I wasn’t sure if I liked, but I couldn’t put it down and I immediately went out of my way to read the second book (THE LAST OF AUGUST). In fact, very much my reaction to the recent Sherlock TV series. Like the Leonard Goldberg book THE DAUGHTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, it somewhat beggars belief to imagine that generations of Holmes, Watsons, and Moriartys behave the same way generation after generation. Still, that’s what make all of these pastiches so fun: imagining what Sherlock Holmes would be like if he weren’t a middle-aged man. The subject matter of these books is dark and there is sex (both consensual and non-consensual) and drugs. If imagining Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock as a young teenage girl makes you uncomfortable, so too will this book. It’s also the kind of book I would have loved to read as a teenage girl, so there you go. The only reason I didn’t bring back a copy of THE CASE FOR JAMIE from my most recent trip to Winnipeg is the degree to which my To Read pile is backlogged. We’ve got A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE in stock in trade paperback, THE LAST OF AUGUST available to order in trade paperback, and THE CASE FOR JAMIE in stock in hardcover.
I’ll mention here for want of a better place to say it that YA books are usually priced lower than adult books. So THE CASE FOR JAMIE, for example, is a hardcover priced at $21.99 and A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE in trade paperback at $12.50. If you’re looking for some budget reads, we have some excellent young adult titles that will appeal as much to the adult reader, especially as we grow our children’s section in the new store.