“Even if you did. You were still forgiven. They forgave you. And accepting their forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness.”
— Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte
Who wouldn’t go nuts over the thought of reading a retelling of Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s books? Now, how tempting is that? A Study in Charlotte is a brand new take on our beloved Sherlock and Watson. These two fellows are quite real in Brittany Cavallaro’s new book, but it has been a century since their existence. Descendants of the great detective and the trusty doctor, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are now the protagonists of a whole new paradigm, and they don’t know it yet. If the names weren’t an indicator, the author of this young adult novel brings in a slight twist in gender with Charlotte being a girl and having Jamie drool on the idea of being hands in hands with her. Both established in Connecticut and going to Sherringford Boarding School, these two teenagers are framed for the murder of one of their colleagues. Clueless, shocked and determined, they unite together in these unusual circumstances to solve the case. A case where the murderer reenacts crime scenes similar to the ones in the legendary Sherlock and Watson novels.
For an author who hasn’t yet made a name for herself in the industry, Brittany Cavallero sure does have an impeccable writing skill. As you might have deduced, the majority of the book is told in Jamie Watson’s point of view, just like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels with the voice of James Watson navigating the show. The humor is unique and the general ambiance depicts a great high school environment. The characters are quite well developed and each played their role to the letter in this whodunit story. In fact, Brittany Cavallero succeeds in creating the perfect young adult retelling of Holmes and Watson. Every actor is unique and the author thrives in giving every actor a persona of their own. Except for our protagonists. This was a major downside in my books, especially when I came diving into this book looking for an entertaining and a new take on Holmes and Watson.
Charlotte embodies the dear Sherlock Holmes in every possible way. Except her snappy deductions and beyond human intelligence doesn’t make her as attachable as the great Sherlock Holmes. Even her habits, attitudes and behaviors are similar to her famous predecessor. And then there’s Jamie. With far too similar traits to Dr. Watson, this teenage boy also gets the opportunity to fall in love with Charlotte, thanks to the wonderful twist in sex. The romance felt like an easy way to go, especially when you think about the perfect bromance that the original characters had together. What drove me a little close to insanity is how predominant the romance was in the plot. A great deal was allocated to creating scenes to put their teenage love on a pedestal. I really would’ve hoped that they could’ve at least built a stronger friendship bond before jumping into a wild back-and-forth love story.
“I gave up my dreams to make you serve the sentence you deserved.”
— Brittany Cavallaro, A Study in Charlotte
Besides the strong emphasis on the relationship of the character, the mystery itself wasn’t as exciting as one would hope. The constant love and hate between Charlotte and Jamie did serve a purpose when you observe the impact it had on the plot. In fact, their conflict in communication and Jamie’s blind love for Charlotte serve as an obstacle in several ways. Although I believe this was inevitable, the mystery still couldn’t benefit from it. I felt a great deal of the novel staggered in fruitless hypotheses. Both characters also seemed to go in random directions and sometimes would draw conclusions right out of the blue. Not the Sherlock Holmes kind of deductions that lead to a mind-blowing revelation. The plot also seemed to be dragged around a little too much with close to little attempt to hook me to the adventure. However, I was quite pleased by the ideas tackled on by the author to spice up Jamie and Charlotte’s adventure. But the biggest problem lies in getting attached to the characters. In no way did I find myself consumed by A Study in Charlotte or feel any attachment whatsoever to the two protagonists.
The secret to this novel simply lies in how invested you’d be to the characters. The difference in opinion will differ greatly depending on that very factor. Brittany Cavallaro has created a great young adult novel with a female Holmes. The chemistry between the two protagonists might have been easily foreseen, but it remains that both characters were entertaining; if you overlook the fact that they are exactly like the original Holmes and Watson. Other than a touch of teenage and modern culture (use of texting, hacking, etc.), the characters aren’t much different from their predecessor and the readers knowledge of the original characters would also make a great difference for this novel. Even though I was underwhelmed by A Study in Charlotte, I still believe it has great potential if the author decides to continue the adventures of Jamie and Charlotte. Hopefully, Brittany Cavallaro can step her game up regarding the plot.
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