It is time for another book review!
This one is an audiobook and I listened to it as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge Death Cloud by Andrew Lane. Death Cloud, is actually the first book in the Young Sherlock Holmes series detailing where and how the famous British detective got his start. Also, I received this review copy of the audiobook from the super nice people at MacMillan Audio- thank you!
The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer’s son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education – the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously ‘unwell’, Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent . . .
Okay. So I have to be completely honest here; I haven’t read any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I have always been intrigued by the character and I do own a copy of them all. So, I’m not a complete classic fiction failure right?!
Can we also talk about the idea of looking at classic fictional characters as teenagers?! How fun is that?! Let’s get working on a teenage Elizabeth Bennett or a young Hercule Poirot! I would seriously read them! This is why I was drawn to Death Cloud when I first saw it- come on a teenage Sherlock Holmes? YES!
Lane creates a cool collected, level-headed, although sometimes incredibly stubborn teenage boy who has all the reasoning skills, without the knowledge (enter is new American tutor). What I found really interesting about Lane’s portrayal of Sherlock is that he is kind of a social outcast in school. He knows the other students and sits among them in classes, but doesn’t really have any friends. In fact, Sherlock has never really had any friends growing up, and because of it he is a bit socially awkward at times. This is incredibly interesting as one would think that those who grow up privileged in an area where you are the wealthiest family, one might not be allowed to know the other children. But there also seems to be the fact that Sherlock’s precociousness seems to put him on a different plane than the other boys in his school.
My boys at school are usually not into historical fiction (although some of my girls are) so I’ve been debating whether or not to add Death Cloud to my Media Center catalog or not. My students just don’t have much interest in historical fiction (arrgghh the truth hurts my historical fiction loving heart!) That being said this story is pretty action packed, especially once Sherlock and the mystery get underway, so I think I’m going to give it a try and talk it up to some of my boys who enjoy the Alex Rider books, because there are definitely similarities between the two.
Overall, I really enjoyed the audiobook narrator, Daniel Weyman, who apparently mostly does theater work. His voices and accents were consistent the whole way through, although his American accent was slightly humorous to me because it was such a stereotypical southern accent. I guess that’s how we sound to everyone else! haha
I really enjoyed this book and if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or a fan of historical fiction you’ll probably have fun with it too! It is intended for readers 12 and up, so I’d say that anyone who likes a good mystery would appreciate Death Cloud.