A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Digital Audiobook narrated by Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1, 2016
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Retellings, Young Adult
Length: 321 pages or 9 hours, 7 minutes
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The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
I really, really, really enjoyed this book.
To start off this review, I actually want to pause and shout out to the main narrator, Graham Halstead. I rarely talk about the narrators in my reviews even though most of my reading is audiobooks. That said, when one is either very good or very bad, I like to highlight it. Graham Halstead is fantastic. Aside from having just the right cadence and buttery tone to embody James Watson, I’ve never noticed a narrator pay attention to the detail in book about the voice. At one point, Watson mentions when he’s angry, his accent thickens… and Graham Halstead spoke with a thicker British accent during Watson’s angry dialogue. I just… wow? So immersive. So good. It needed mentioning.
As far as narrators go, Julie Whalen is always wonderful as well, but she only narrators the epilogue, so don’t get too excited for that.
On to the book itself.
I am finding myself in the midst of a lot of Sherlock Holmes retellings lately, and I am okay with it. There’s a quirky charm to them, and A Study in Charlotte is no exception. Rather than creative a pure retelling, this is a continuation of sorts, revolving around the descendants of the famed Holmes & Watson duo. I liked that, because while we can see reflections of their predecessors in them, James and Charlotte are very much their own people.
These characters are interesting, unpredictable, and layered. One of the qualms I have with anything retelling-esque is that it tends to rely on the reader knowing the original story and character details. Brittany Cavallaro makes no such assumptions, but she is not tedious. These two are vibrant and complicated and interesting. At the end of the book I found myself wanting to know more about Charlotte, so I’m quite glad this isn’t a standalone.
The story draws some inspiration from classic murder mystery boarding school tales (which are practically always fun) and some sparks from Sherlock Holmes, but this is also an awkward friendship/probably romance (in later books, I’m assuming) and a story about finding friends, family, and fitting in. There are a lot of elements in the plot to like about this. The writing is interesting, the deductions enjoyable, and the descriptions are not too heavy. Generally… this is just a well-written book I found highly enjoyable!
Do you consider yourself an observant person? I don’t consider myself at Charlotte Holmes’ level, but I like to think I notice a lot of what’s going on around me. What about you?