Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro | Such a FUN Book!

Charlotte Holmes #1
Date Read: Jan 22 to 23, 2018
First Published: 2016
Kindle & Hardcover
Young Adult, Alternate History
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.
Some books are just god damn, capital letters, FUN.

Of course, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is a lot of other things, too, but boy did I enjoy reading this one! I knew roughly around the halfway mark that I wanted to own physical copies of this series. That's a really big deal, for me, because I don't often purchase a book I have on kindle unless the book is both gorgeous and great... which, this one sure is (by the way, we're getting a 4th book *does a happy dance*).

Now, before I really begin and for transparency's sake, I love Sherlock and Watson. Not as much the original books themselves, but their various interpretations and reimagining in the media. I have watched the movies, the BBC series, Elementary, etc. The only shows I ever watch consistently are crime dramas with detectives and the likes. Those are my jam, and so are Sherlock and Watson.

So I didn't really need to know much about this book before picking it up. Which is lucky, because looking at the GR page for it just now I realized almost all my friends gave it lukewarm reviews at best. This means I could have totally missed a book I ended up loving.

Because, yes, as I've mentioned before, I loved this one.

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is set in a world where Sherlock and Watson weren't characters in a novel, but real life people. Real life people who had kids, and those kids had kids and those kids had kids and... you get the picture. Now, two of those direct descendants meet in a boarding school. And then someone gets murdered, and they're the prime suspects. So... they do what Holmes and Watsons do best. They team up. They investigate. They form a relationship that is as balanced as it is unlikely.

Have I sold you on this yet? Need more? Okay then.

So, our precious mains. First, we've got James (not to be called Jamie!). As appropriate of a Watson, he tells the story. And he's adorable. There, I said it. He wants to be a writer (#relatable, am I right??), he feels like a complete outsider, he's smart--but not obscenely smart and logic-oriented as Holmes. Which makes him the heart of the partnership.

Then we have the titular Charlotte. As the brains. She's cold, rational, and messed up. Jaded and untrusting, but still with a glimmer of hope. Thinks herself the smartest person in the room... mostly because she is. Tries to pretend she doesn't care, when she does. Manipulative, kind of vengeful, but with a working sense of right and wrong that doesn't always scream at her loudly enough to notice. Again; messed up.

These two are far from perfect, but that's what makes it so fun to watch their relationship evolves into friendship (and... maybe more. In fact, hopefully, more, because I ship it like FedEx). I loved how beautifully Cavallaro captured the role Watsons have in the lives of Holmes. They humanize them, become what they measure right and wrong, good and bad against. I'm curious, in this world, what a Holmes with a bad Watson would look like.

Which is why, ultimately, they may make such a great couple. I've seen people put out by this fact; claiming it ruins the original dynamics. But firstly, this is not Sherlock and John. And secondly... I wholeheartedly disagree, for everything I said above and more.

I feel like this interpretation maintains the original power balance (the banter, the quips, the roles each have in the other's life) but adds another layer to it. There is a reason Watson and Sherlock are one of the most shipped pairings in the world, and that reason manifests itself here in all its glory but also becomes 80% most likely to come to fruition.

Like, even though I am not an aggressive shipper, I've always shipped Johnlock in the way I ship Dan & Phil; they're my ultimate brotp, but if they decided to make fangirls' dreams all over the world come true and announce they're together, I wouldn't mind. In fact, I may even squee a little. Perhaps I will tweet about how beautiful life is. Post photos and gifs of them from the years on Tumblr with the hashtags #relationshipgoals and #dreamcometrue.

Hey, I'm just being honest.

Moving on... Aside for the two mains, I loved the contemporary boarding school settings, the character development and the general vibe of the whole book. There is no other character I can describe as "stand out", but it's mostly because these two are scene stealers. They always have been, in any interpretation.

The only part I am lukewarm on is the actual mystery, and I wasn't at first. I actually really liked it when I finished the book, especially since I couldn't figure it out until the very end (although, I did suspect ALL the guilty parties so boo ya!).

BUT the further away I am from it the more I became kind of bummed that this was the first mystery. Like, I feel like we may have needed the first mystery to be... less personal. It had to be because of the setting, but this was too personal. Which made it feel more appropriate for a second book, or even the third one. I'll have to go back to this point after reading the second book; we'll see how the mystery there will fare in comparison.

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