Title: The Angel of Crows
Author: Katherine Addison
Release Date: 23/6/2020
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 26
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Tor/Forge , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
I think it is this line in the blurb that tells the most truth:
"This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting"
It is right it was not the book I was expecting, and not in a positive way. I was not expecting an almost scene for scene retelling of a Study in Scarlet and many other of the Sherlock stories with paranormal elements shoe horned in. Other than the changing of two names (Sherlock is now Crow, and Dr Watson is Dr Doyle all other names remain) and adding a Jack the ripper story line it is a VERY faithful retelling. And it is such a shame. I love a good retelling, but retellings should elevate and change the story, give us something new. Take the reader to a new angle of the story or twist a character in a way we didn’t expect and this just didn’t do that. It just felt like an admittedly very creative paranormal world layered over the already existing text.
The paranormal additions and world building around it are fantastic. I wanted to know more about how the Angel’s society, why they inhabit public buildings, what it happens when they fall. I wanted to know more about the Vampire Hunts and the Hemophage dens and how they interplay. We only briefly got a glimpse at how the werewolves interact with this society and that could have been so much more. There was so much just on the edges, but we just don’t get to explore them as instead on focusing on these novel and interesting elements we are dragged back into the familiar stories, it was frustrating. I have read Sir Arthurs Conan Doyle, I have Stephen Fry’s excellent narration to fall back on when ever I want to revisit that world. I don’t need to read them again slightly reworded to add a vampire here or a werewolf there.
I have to admit I didn’t like the re-characterisation of Sherlock as Crow. Instead of having an aloof, intelligent air, Crow read more like Basil the great Mouse detective, slightly cartoonish with puppy like energy. The twists and turns in the Character of Dr Doyle (Watson) were very interesting. There are a few of them that are somewhat unexpected and could have been a really refreshing. We could have got these same aspects in an original tale, the retelling aspects really just drew me out of those elements of the story and they were the only thing that was new.
When the story line was original it was fantastic, the pursuit of Jack the Ripper was interesting, the dips into the various paranormal elements was interesting but there wasn’t enough! I kept waiting for the story to turn and go off the Sherlock line into this world and it didn’t, we just got the more classic Sherlock stories. It felt like all the originality was hidden and squashed, it was disappointing.
It was an ok read, I enjoy the Sherlock Stories so I enjoyed them again here. Its all I can say is it was ok.