Book Review: The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

Book Review: The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Tor) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Angel of the Crows is basically Sherlock fan-fiction. I can’t even say it’s thinly veiled, because it isn’t veiled at all. And I am completely okay with that.

“I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for a second that I am one of them.”
– BBC’s Sherlock

There were a couple of pretty big twists here and there, but for the most part this book is a collection of faithful retellings of some of Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories. A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and more are covered in this collection. The still unsolved case of Jack the Ripper, which has been included or alluded to in many secondary works about Holmes written by other authors, is the thread which ties all of these separate cases into one cohesive narrative. But what sets this book apart from other Sherlockian stories outside of Doyle’s original canon is the author’s truly fascinating addition of the supernatural. This is not mere whiffs of supernatural in and around certain cases. Addison created a world in which the supernatural runs rampant and is accepted as reality but civilization at large.

“You can not keep faith with the faithless.”

Where the supernatural is seen most interestingly is in the Sherlock and Watson characters. Crow, the Sherlock character in this story, is an angel. Kind of. He doesn’t have his own habitation, which is what gives angels their identity. He isn’t one of the Nameless, because he managed to wrest an identity almost out of thin air. And he isn’t one of the Fallen, who are basically angels who lost their habitations and went crazy. Crow is something that no one can define, and it freaks everyone the heck out. Everyone, that is, except for Dr. J.H. Doyle, the Watson character in this tale. After being wounded in the war in Afghanistan, Doyle finds himself sharing a flat with Crow at 221B Baker Street. Addison barely deviated from the original meeting of the two, which I appreciated. From there they embark on the adventures that have become so well known over the past century, with just enough differences to keep things interesting.

“Shepherds watch over their flocks. And angels watch over shepherds.”

The Angel of the Crows is very much rooted in the Victorian London of Doyle’s original canon. Addison stays incredibly true to the stories that provided her inspiration. But what kept this book from feeling like a stale rehashing, besides the supernatural elements, were all of the references to the BBC series that Addison included. Some of the dialogue was word for word from the show. I’ve read and loved every Sherlock story Doyle penned, but the reason behind that love is my adoration for the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I have watched each and every episode multiple times; the first six episodes I’ve watched half a dozen times at least. It’s my sentimental favorite series ever. When Addison opened the book with a quote from the show, I was already won over. But every time she gave the series even the slightest of nods in the narrative it made me giddy. I mean, she gave Crow wings with the same level of moodiness and sass as Sherlock’s coat gave him in the show. The biggest change was Crow’s complete innocence and joy over the smallest things. Since these personality traits make him very believable as an angel, so I’m totally in favor of them. And I really don’t think they’re too far off from Sherlock’s portrayal in the show.

“Your real name has power.”

If you’re a fan of the original Doyle canon, this is a fun replay of some of its greatest hits, so to speak. Does it do anything truly new? No. The core of the stories are exactly the same. But the trappings are a lot of fun. And if you’re as obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock as I am, The Angel of the Crows is going to make you really happy. It’s as light and sweet and frothy as any plot relying on murder can get.

All quotes above were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.

U.S. Release date: June 23, 2020
U.K. Release date: September 17, 2020

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

  1. Great review! I also got an ARC of this one, now I’m pretty escited to pick this one up!


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