This is the first in a series about "The Boy Sherlock Holmes," a series I didn't know existed until I stumbled on the final book at the library a few weeks ago. Sometimes I'm okay with starting a series out of order, but starting with the last book seemed just too wrong, so I requested this one through the library's website and figured if I liked it, I'd read the rest in order.
I liked it. I can't wait to read more. Totally, completely awesome as a Holmes story and as a YA coming-of-age book.
Eye of the Crow involves a thirteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes, and it's very different from the other versions of the character's childhood that I've read or seen. Usually, he's the son of a respectable, fairly well-to-do family, and thoroughly British. Here, he's half-Jewish and poor. And, as a character, he's much more interesting as a result. He has so much more to work against, so many more obstacles, not just in this story, but in his life ahead. And it jives with the canonical Holmes too -- that disdain he sometimes shows for the wealthy? His willingness to bend the law to help lowly transgressors go straight? His obsessive knowledge of London's every cranny? I could see all those coming for this poor boy with the brilliant mind.
Because Holmes is already becoming brilliant in this book. Fumbling a bit, finding his footing in the world of mysteries and detection, but already keen of mind and instinct.
Okay, so anyway, the plot revolves around an unidentified young woman's murder, and the subsequent arrest of what Holmes believes to be the wrong person. He sets out to right this wrong, and finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of ruthlessness he was little prepared for. People he cares about get hurt. People he cares about die. But he solves the mystery nonetheless.
I do have one quibble with this book, and that's the use of too many names connected to the Canon. Having Inspector Lestrade's father also be a police inspector was fine, made great sense. But tossing in other familiar names, like Irene (though not Adler) and Doyle and Dupin... it just got kind of cute, like a game of "Guess who I'm referring to here?" But that wasn't enough to keep me from enjoying the story or wanting to read the rest of the series.
Particularly Good Bits:
Violins are sad; they are strong; they tell the truth. (pg. 45)
Reading is like an addiction to him: he craves it the way desperate folks in the Lime House opium dens in the East End need their drug. (pg. 95)
He yearns for the time, just a week or so ago, when he was nobody. (pg. 120)
She also knows she shouldn't try to comprehend this remarkable boy, that that is the way to be his friend. One understands him by not understanding, by trusting his mind. (pg. 128)
If this was a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for violence.