“Sherlock Holmes is a genius…. Warlock Holmes is something else.”
Hello Readers! Welcome back to the intellectual and deductive world of Sherlock Holmes. Today we will be looking at the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through a magical, supernatural and humorous lens in G.S Denning’s Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone. Many of you may remember that I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes in all his many forms, adaptations and extensions. After thoroughly enjoying Holmes in comic form through the miniseries Sherlock Holmes VS Harry Houdini by Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery and in the stand alone novel Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, I was very excited to venture through a magical adaptation of Holmes in another great work from Titan Books. So without further delay, let’s dive right into Denning’s Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone.
Our story begins with the introduction of our hero Warlock Holmes through the journal entries of Dr. John Watson. Watson comes into acquaintance with Holmes through a mutual friend to satisfy both their need for a flatmate. But unlike Sherlock Holmes, who is an intellectual genius with an amazing photographic memory, unparalleled skills in deduction, observation and logical reasoning, Warlock is quite different. Though Warlock is gifted with the power to resist various poisons, the strength of a thousand demons, the ability to communicate / work with different demonic and supernatural beings, the principles of detection are lost on him. Through the help of Dr. John Watson, he is taken through six different mysterious cases riddled with crime, murder and magic.
Right from the beginning I loved this book. As stated above, I love the world of Sherlock Holmes and this novel is no exception. Denning does an amazing job of taking the original classic novel (A Study in Scarlett) and five of the original classic short stories (The Adventure of the Resident Patient, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, The Adventure of the Yellow Face, The Adventure of the Speckled Hand and The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton) and puts a comedic, magical twist to them. All the initial characters and events of the original stories are there, but are transformed through supernatural hijinks and humorous moments.
Any fan of Sherlock Holmes will pick up on the nods and winks to the reader, making it a very fun and enjoyable read. And don’t you worry readers who are experiencing Holmes for the first time. Even if you have never read the original cases of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, this is a good stepping stone for you. This novel gives a good introduction to these characters within these magical cases; most likely giving any new readers the desire to go and see them in their original form.
The major element throughout this novel is the use of the paranormal and supernatural. Warlock himself is a mystical character, not only gifted with magical abilities, but is often possessed by the spirit of Professor James Moriarty. I thought this was very well done having Warlock’s arch-nemesis constantly trapped inside him and communicating to him through possession; instead of through other criminals in his crime ring. It really captures the connection between them, as well as their struggle to outmatch the other; which is quite difficult when they are never truly without one another.
Inspector G. Lestrade and Inspector Tobias Gregson of Scotland Yard make appearances within the novel, also as mystical characters of the supernatural world. Inspector G. Lestrade is portrayed as Vladislav Lestrade, a vampire keeping his true nature a secret. I thought this particular twist on his character fit nicely. It makes sense that a vampire in Victorian England would take a job in solving homicidal crime because of his attraction to blood. Inspector Tobias Gregson is portrayed as Torg Grogsson, a seven-foot-tall ghoulish man. He is quite larger and stronger than the average man and is very creepy to look upon. But like Inspector Lestrade, he tries to blend in with London society and do good. He and Lestrade prove this by being the smartest officers at Scotland Yard, using their abilities to solve crimes and help people.
I also really liked how Denning took different details of the original stories and put a magical twist to them. Like having the walls bleed messages, manipulated body parts that are changed through spells and, as stated above, possession by spirits. These elements made the story more suspenseful and provided many comedic reactions from Dr. Watson; who is the only ‘normal’ character in every story.
I really enjoyed the dynamic relationship between Warlock and John. Throughout the different cases within the novel, their friendship not only strengthens but is constantly challenged with Holmes revealing more of the paranormal world to Watson. Dr. Watson’s reactions to the new characters they meet and different magic’s they encounter are both hilarious and different every time. I also really liked the role reversal between these two characters. In the original stories, Sherlock is always teaching John about observation and deduction; looking at different possibilities that are laid out right in front of you as the solution to whatever problem.
In this novel, John is the one who is constantly teaching Warlock to use his senses and logical reasoning instead of falling back on magic and mysticism. This created an ongoing debate between magic versus logic in solving a crime and figuring out a mystery. I really liked how they were both teaching and discovering different aspects of problem solving. This gave a nice balance of knowledge and leadership to both characters within their hilarious and dependable friendship.
The illustrations by Sean Patella-Buckley throughout the novel were epic. They were a lovely addition to the stories and really captured the atmosphere of the cases beautifully. The black and white detailed depictions of the characters really leap off the page, bringing the story to life. My favourite was the last one at the end of the novel. It really highlighted the haunting conclusion that shocks readers; leaving them in awe and wanting more.
If you are looking for a hilarious collection of magical and adventurous mysteries, then this is the novel for you. G.S Denning’s supernatural touch to these classic stories of Sherlock Holmes is both a refreshing and comical read. Diehard fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories will love the paranormal twists and funny situations Warlock and John find themselves in. New fans will fall in love with the characters and long for more crazy hijinks for them to experience and solve. I recommend Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone to all who enjoy fun, exciting and supernatural mysteries and I can’t wait to read G.S Denning’s sequel, Warlock Holmes: The Battle of Baskerville Hall, next year.
If your gonna Geek out, GEEK HARD!