Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany CavallaroA Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) by Brittany Cavallaro
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1st 2016
Pages: 321
Goodreads |

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.

Professional Talk about A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte begins with an enticing premise: 21st-century descendants of Sherlock and John meet at boarding school. Murder and deductions ensue. Really, it’s more complicated than that. Watsons and Holmeses aren’t exactly besties anymore. In fact, Jamie Watson has been discouraged from ever having anything to do with Charlotte Holmes, never mind that he’s always wanted to meet her. But fate, family politics, and a host of other reasons means that Jamie has been accepted to Sherringford, a private boarding school—-the very same boarding school Charlotte Holmes attends. He’s a writerly type trapped in a rugby player’s body and is loyal to the core—-like his great, great, great, grandfather, John. She is a waif-like genius with too many vices like her great, great, great, grandfather, Sherlock. Except, unlike Sherlock, Charlotte has feelings—-feelings that she fights to keep the Holmes’s legacy alive. When Lee Dobson is killed at Sherringford, Holmes and Watson are framed for it. They must work quickly to clear their names, lest another student (or one of them) winds up dead. Jamie and Charlotte live up to the legacies of their ancestors without being mere clones of them. Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will delight in Cavallaro’s careful, nuanced references to canon in A Study in Charlotte. More importantly, Jamie and Charlotte, like the BBC series, Sherlock, make Doyle’s stories accessible to a new generation.

Casual Talk about A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte is a slow novel. Not slow in that I was bored, but slow in that the events unfold slowly and methodically. The plot reminds me of a melody that slowly crescendos and surprises you. There are some pieces of music where you suddenly realize that the music lead you up to the top of a mountain peak without you even knowing it. And then suddenly you open your eyes and the entire world is in front of you, and your heart is beating in time with the rapid tempo. This book did that to me. I didn’t realize the book lead me into some heart-pounding drama until my heart was literally pounding, and I realized that I was at the climax of the book. It’s not often that a novel surprises me like that. I enjoyed it.

On to the characters. Jamie is very endearing. His loyalty is sweet .. and little infuriating. I’m sure if I were sixteen, I’d be over the moon for him. Let’s be honest. I’m still over the moon for him … in an I’m-totally-an-adult-and-it’s-creepy kind of way. My favorite thing about Jamie is that he wonders why there isn’t a handbook about the care and keeping of Holmeses. It’s such a brilliant idea. Of course, there is one. And the rules seem just as applicable to Charlotte as they do to Sherlock. Those rules are my favorite addition to the story.

Even though Jamie tells this story, the real star is Charlotte. Just when you think she’s a carbon copy of Sherlock, Cavallaro throws some intrigue into the mix that makes Charlotte stand out as a girl who struggles with her family legacy. She isn’t just a logic robot like I thought she would be. She feels and struggles and hurts and gets scared, but she has to hide it because she’s a Holmes. It’s fascinating character conflict. I also adored her relationship with her brother, Milo.

A note to the author: I’ll be needing a Milo Holmes novel, stat.

There’s a hint of romance between Jamie and Charlotte. Normally I wouldn’t like this. I refuse to watch Elementary because I’m afraid it’ll happen. I totally ship Johnlock  in Sherlock though, so I dunno what my issue is with a romance between female Watson and male Sherlock in Elementary. Anyway, I’m surprisingly okay with the feelings Jamie has for Charlotte. Maybe it’s because it’s a male Watson pining for a female Holmes—-it’s a power dynamic shift that I enjoy. But I also think it’s because Charlotte holds him at arm’s length. She hints that she could feel the same for him, but she’s conniving enough that it makes me wonder if she has some other reason for her feelings. Basically: I think her feelings could be for show. We’ll see.

A Study in Charlotte is a solid four-star read. Reading about a baby Watson and a baby Holmes trying to live up to family legacy is right up my alley. There’s enough family drama and murder-y things to keep you on your toes.


© 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.