Warlock Holmes may have demons in his head, but now Dr. John Watson has a mummy in his bloodstream. Specifically that of the sorcerer Xantharaxes, who when shredded and dissolved in an 8% solution, results in some extremely odd but useful prophetic dreams. There’s also the small matter of Watson falling for yet another damsel-du-jour, and Warlock deciding that his companion needs some domestic bliss…
Firstly, I would like to thank Titan Books for sending me this advanced review copy. Sign of Nine is in fact that 4th book in the Warlock Holmes series, yet as a total newcomer I didn’t feel as if I had to have read what came before to fully enjoy this, as there are plenty of nods back to earlier stories. Firstly I have to say the narration in this book is outstanding, In my head I was Dr. Watson and I read it in my best Victorian gentleman voice, which in itself made me stop and laugh at myself. The richness of the words and the execution of the comedy timing were great, in both their ridiculousness and dedication to the time period.
With an air of of a man stumbling to the right conclusion until he fell over and it hit him in the face, Warlock Holmes’s powers of deduction are questionable but surprisingly sound. Their escapades are real adventures, bringing them into contact with all manner of things that go bump in the night. I loved how nothing phased Watson and my, does he see some sights. Fantastic mythology, great characters and a story that neatly clicks into place as each section moved on. There is a ton of imagination into the scenarios our protagonists find themselves in, I certainly was never bored!
Expertly combining comedy with tragedy, there are frequent reminders that outside of the comedy of errors there are actually real and brutal crimes afoot, yet the comedy never felt in bad taste and the tragedy quite chilling at times. I found the arrangement of the story interesting, split into both story and dreamscape elements, the short stories leading up to the Sign of Nine were great at setting the scene. I loved the feature of one of my favourite mythical creatures, the Selkie, in one of the more tragic tales too. The dreamscape elements will be very satisfying to those who are fans of the source material as they give a great take and depth on what makes familiar faces such as Moriarty and Irene Adler tick – I found these little sections really came alive and were the only real time that I wished I had read what had come before.
This is a great comedy read with plenty of fantasy to go hand in hand with it, this was one out of comfort zone read that I am very happy to have picked up!