Saturday, 16 October 2010

Sherlock Holmes Books: The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures: Review

The Young Sherlock Holmes AdventuresNo - not the 1980s' film - but the soon to be released graphic novel from Markosia Enterprises.

In The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures - we meet up with Sherlock before the height of his powers and studying at a boarding school in the heart of steampunk Britain. There's something nasty up to no good in the east end of London. And is it really a vampire? Holmes is not so sure...

When the junior detective first roars into view on a steam-powered motorcycle - you know you are in for something rather different.

But it's also clear that the authors know their Holmes.

He's brilliant but slightly socially awkward and lacking in empathy at times (although not yet as jaded as he will be in the future). It's clear he cares for his friends.  He plays with clockwork toys. He gets to demonstrate "the trick". But lacking the life experience of his older self - it rather backfires on him.

This is Sherlock Holmes as a steampunk geek of action - and it works well.

Plotwise - there's enough twists, foreshadowing and reveals to make it a fun and satisfying read even for us oldies.

The only thing missing is a closing explanation of how Sherlock worked it all out so that his Boswell (and us) can fully appreciate his cleverness.  A careful re-read of the book will reveal the clues to you though.

For the eagle eyed reader there's plenty of other things to reward further investigation as many of the panels have other touches of the Conan Doyle about them. I'll leave you to find them.

Thankfully it's in full colour. There is nothing more disappointing than opening a beautifully rendered graphic novel cover only to reveal acres of black and white line art.  The palette reflects the story - fresh, fun with the occasional glimpse of darkness.

There's also a few rich hints dropped of what's to come in subsequent books in the series.

Finally, rounding off the book are a nice set of sketches and description of the creative process. With a bit of luck - any junior Sherlockians in your life will be inspired to create their own comic adventures to fill in the time until the next book.

The Young Sherlock Holmes Adventures is out in December.

Overall verdict: Deserves a place in any young Sherlock Holmes fan's Victorian Christmas stocking.

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