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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel - Anthony Horowitz

Who doesn't love a good Sherlock Holmes story? I think it's safe to say his adventures are timeless, if at times more satisfying for the byplay between Watson and Holmes than the actual mystery. This new entry in to Sherlock lore offers a new story, supposedly locked away by John because of the sensitive nature of its contents, and now it is here to quench the thirst for more Holmes adventures.


This novel predictably reads like fan fiction. Arthur Conan Doyle Estate approval or no, that's really what it is. While emulating the style of the traditional stories, it simply cannot quite match it for complexity and sophisticated writing style. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I did, and could hardly put it down once I had let it lure me in.


The mystery is quite twisted and complex, with a wide variety of characters and circumstances coming into play. I would say that this element of the story is more of a story web than most original Holmes stories. It was enjoyable and suspenseful except for the sensationalist turns that mark this novel as unmistakably modern.


In the interest of not revealing spoilers, I will say that extreme child abuse is a major story element here. When I got this book at the library, I had assured my 13 year old daughter that she could read it too, assuming that it would be as teenager appropriate as the Holmes that she has already grown to love. I wouldn't say that she couldn't read this, but she shouldn't have to. It will be quietly returned in the hope that she forgets about having asked for it. For adult readers, there are a few things that will make you squirm, but they are unfortunately very real issues in our society, then and now.


John Watson, who is of course our narrator, is written much as he always has been, and he even manages on his own briefly while Holmes is, well, indisposed. Holmes is as brilliant and impetuous as always, but seems more driven by setting things morally right, a sense of obligation, and his affection for Watson, than seemed quite right. Not once did he want to solve the mystery simply because he cannot stand the idea that he might not be smart enough. One of the reasons we love Holmes is for his arrogant unapproachable character, and that was not quite present here.


Overall, I would say that this was a quick, captivating read, but in the end I wish I had simply grabbed the real adventures of Sherlock Holmes from my shelf.