About the Book

Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)
Published: 2016

Cover Story: Sherlockian Toile
BFF Charm: Be Mine
Talky Talk: Modern Watson
Trigger Warnings: Drug Addiction, Stories of Rape
Bonus Factors: Sherlock Holmes, Series Starter
Relationship Status: It’s Elementary

Cover Story: Sherlockian Toile

This is a fabulous cover. The colors are excellent, the illustrations (which would totally fit in on a themed toile) are clever, and I really like the handwritten nature of the typeface.

The Deal:

James Watson, known by his friends—much to his consternation—as Jamie, is a descendant of the storied John Watson. As a kid, Jamie used to fantasize about (and romanticize) having adventures with Charlotte Holmes, the only descendant of John’s partner Sherlock Holmes near his age. But it’s not until his junior year in high school, when he’s shipped off to boarding school in Connecticut, that the two actually meet, and Charlotte’s nothing like Jamie ever imagined. She actually doesn’t want anything to do with him, until one of their classmates is murdered—and they’re the prime suspects.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Jamie has some issues, particularly that he’s overly aggressive and has a hot temper, which leads to the occasional fist fight. But he’s also intelligent, sensitive, and caring, and has a great sense of nerdy chic style. I’m not typically one for aggressive dudes, but there’s something super appealing about James Watson, regardless. (Plus, he’s been living in England for about a decade, and so has a bit of an accent, which only adds to said appeal.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

The swoon in A Study in Charlotte isn’t your typical butterflies in the stomach, heart-racing swoon. Instead, it’s the kind of swoon that makes you—or me, at least, since I’m a hopeless romantic—begin to imagine all the things that come after a first kiss.

Talky Talk: Modern Watson

Brittany Cavallaro writes the way I’d want to write if I were an author. For example:

Grabbing my arm, Tom began shouldering us to the back of the tiny kitchen. I felt like I was being pulled through a dark, dank wardrobe into some boozy Narnia.

She infuses her characters with wit and feeling, and they leapt from the page in ways that both made me laugh and made me want to give them an overly long hug. Jamie’s the kind of guy that high school me would’ve had a huge crush on, but would’ve also been totally OK with being his friend just to be around him. Charlotte’s the kind of girl that seems effortlessly cool and aloof, but is actually so much more, if you can crack her tough shell. These characters are certainly based on their ancestors, but they’re also their own people, and they shine.

Trigger Warnings: Drug Addiction, Stories of Rape

The fact that Sherlock Holmes was a drug addict and recreational user of opiates and cocaine is a known part of his stories, but many adaptations shy away from that part of his character. A Study in Charlotte doesn’t—and it can be hard to read. Particularly when said drug use leads to a rape, and the repercussions of such a horrid act.

Bonus Factor: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock, from the TV show of the same name, looking surprised

It’s no surprise that I love a good Sherlock Holmes adaptation, especially when they put a fresh spin on the storiesA Study in Charlotte features both a modernization of the stories and a gender swap, and the characters feel fresh, even while they’re reminiscent of their predecessors.

Bonus Factor: Series Starter

Stack of YA book series

Sometimes, it can be frustrating to realize that the end of a great book is not actually the end. Other times, it’s exciting, because you look forward to what’s to come. I feel like A Study in Charlotte is more the latter than the former.

Relationship Status: It’s Elementary

From the very first moment of our date, Book, I knew I was going to like you. And even though the stories you regaled me with weren’t the most original, they felt fresh. I can’t wait for our next adventure.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Katherine Tegen Books. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. A Study in Charlotte is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband and their dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.