ARC received from the publisher, Tor, in exchange for an honest review
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Published: 23rd June 2020 by Tor Books
The Angel of the Crows was a decent and fun read, though not at all what I was expecting from the blurb. This book is Sherlock Holmes fan-fiction written in the subgenre of wingfic, where some of the characters have wings (in this case, they are angels).
I should somewhat have guessed Sherlock from the mention of Jack the Ripper. But then again, plenty of fiction has been written around the one of the most infamous serial killers in history. I was quite hyped after reading the synopsis of the book as it sounded like a fascinating Victorian-era urban fantasy with angels, vampires and werewolves. Even when I found out it was essentially Sherlock fan-fiction I was still fairly excited to read this title being a fan of the Sherlock franchise, although I’ve technically only read one story so far, i.e. A Study in Scarlet.
Funnily enough, that’s exactly how The Angel of the Crows started – with the retelling of A Study in Scarlet which introduced the reader to our first person POV, Dr J.H. Doyle. Dr. Doyle having returned to London with an injury from a war in Afghanistan ended up finding a housemate in the form of an angel named Crow. I’m sure this sounded familiar. Whether from the book or even the Sherlock TV series, this was the opening scene of Dr John Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
While I’ve no issues with this being Sherlock fan-fiction, I did feel a lack of investment in these retellings, which also notably included the other most famous Sherlock titles, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four. If not for the supernatural aspects, I might even be disinterested in continuing with the book. Crow’s story was fascinating as he was neither Nameless nor Fallen, but still managed to gain an identity without a real habitation. Well, so was Dr. Doyle, who kept two dark secrets from the mortal world. Even though the characterisation was fine enough, I didn’t find myself terribly eager to pick up the book again, as I usually do when I’m really invested and enjoying a read.
I’m not sure if I picked this up at the wrong time, because I expected myself to enjoy this more. Victorian England, supernatural beings, mysteries and Sherlock – all these are some of my favourite trappings in fiction. The writing was also era appropriate without being fussy or long-winded. While my review may not sound very positive, rest assured that The Angel of the Crows could still be a fun read for fans of the Sherlock canon. On that note, my co-blogger, Celeste, enjoyed this book more being a huge Sherlock fan and you can check out her review here.