Written by Andrew Lane
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~ Thanks Macmillan!!!*
Summary from Goodreads:
"It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent."
My Thoughts:I really didn't know what to expect from this book. The extent of my knowledge base concerning Sherlock Holmes comes from the recent movie about him starring Robert Downey Jr.! Death Cloud is the start of a series that follows a young Sherlock Holmes. Through this series, readers will get a peek into his journey from teenager to legend. Death Cloud introduces us to Sherlock at the age of 14. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked his character. He was intelligent but still had much to learn. His interactions and relationships with characters like Crowe, Mycroft and Matty provided the learning experiences necessary to begin transforming him from boy to legend. Of course, he has a long way to go before he reaches legend status, but it is obvious that the skills he is beginning to learn in this book will be perfected through experience and time and eventually make him the legend he is. A good portion of this book seemed to be devoted to character development, which is typical of many first installments in a series. I enjoyed all of the characters, but I really liked Amyus Crowe and his daughter Victoria. Crowe is Sherlock's American tutor. He teaches Sherlock many valuable lessons outside of 'schoolwork' that help Sherlock develop his observational skills and his skill with logic and deduction. In other words, he was teaching Sherlock how to be a detective! Crowe's daughter Victoria was a great female character and I liked how she could take care of herself. She was independent and strong and Sherlock found her very different from other girls that he knew. He was intrigued by her and her 'American' ways. An innocent romance is kindling between them and hopefully we will see her play a bigger role in future installments.
Overall, the pace of the book was quick and the story flowed well. There is plenty of suspense and intrigue to keep you turning the pages and a creepy villian with a diabolical plot that keeps Sherlock and his gang on their toes. The ending was climatic and satisfying, but there are still plenty of questions that pave the way for future installments. As a reader much older than the target age for this book, I did find parts of the story very predictable, but I am not sure that a 12 or 13 year old would be able to figure things out quite as easily. You have to appreciate the book for its intended audience. The predictablility and simplicity in the eyes of an adult wouldn't be obvious to a younger reader and my 4 star rating is based upon how I feel the target audience would enjoy the book. This book (and series) will probably appeal more to boys (heavy on action/light on romance), but I think that any 12 to 16 year old who enjoys a good mystery will like this book. I am looking forward to the next book (Rebel Fire) and discovering what new mystery awaits!
Check out the book trailer for Death Cloud!