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A Study in Charlotte (13+)

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4.5 stars

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publishing Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 9780062398901

“Her brain was like a bear trap: nothing escaped alive.” – Jamie Watson

Summary

After Jamie receives an unexpected Rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a prep school in Connecticut, he bumps into the infamous Charlotte Holmes, heir to Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte, like Sherlock, is a genius but his intelligence isn’t the only thing she inherited. She maintains a fiery attitude from the get-go that causes you to develop a love her and hate her simultaneously. Life at Sherringford won’t be easy for Jamie, though. Surrounded by rich drug addicts, and gossipers galore he’ll be hard pressed to focus on class. After discovering Charlotte Holmes is at this school Jamie decides to introduce himself. When the initial meeting goes awfully he then has to battle with some newfound emotions. As if that weren’t tragic enough, suddenly a student dies under suspicious circumstances. With the finger aimed directly at Jamie and Charlotte will they team together and come out on top or will the fight each other and end up behind bars?

Characters

The book is written from Jamie Watson’s perspective, which I had expected considering this series is a spin off of the classic Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From early on we get to see that Jamie is riddled with insecurities and anger management issues. These character traits/flaws set him up for some ironic and comical moments in the writing. I found Jamie pretty easy to like, for the most part. He is a teenage boy, though, so I was often annoyed with certain things he did and said. His decision making skills aren’t fantastic because he’s highly impulsive, which leads to a lot of foot-in-mouth situations. Overall he’s a great character, and he becomes quite likable – I’d even say admirable.

Charlotte Holmes is an entirely different character, though. We only see things from her perspective once, and that is in the epilogue. Though it takes an eternity to get her perspective, I will say I am very grateful for it. That singular moment with her adds to her character’s dimension and I found it quite charming. Charlotte is highly literal, rude on most occasions, and surprisingly in-tune with her emotions. She’s secretive, and arrogant, commonly associated with her ancestor, Sherlock.Though the emotional aspect of Charlotte is vastly different from Sherlock, it was a ‘nice’ component to the story. Personally I found her more emotional side to be a bit annoying, but from a writer’s perspective I can understand it and I found that it fit the story and situation well.

Aside from these two characters we meet several supporting characters. The interactions between these characters are pretty insignificant. Their were only one or two situations where I felt these characters directly affected the story. Essentially, none of these characters were really necessary because the reader can’t keep their eyes off of Jamie and Charlotte.

Due to the fact that this is a mystery, I am unable to discuss the antagonist without spoiling the plot. You will have to read the book for yourself!

Pros and Cons

This book was well written and definitely kept me captivated from the first page to the last. I finished it in a matter of days and found that I truly enjoyed it. I was really thankful that there were no “slow bits” where I felt like I was dragging my metaphorical feet through muddy water. The mystery aspect of the novel was sound and I suspected the wrong individual for at least 80% of the book. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good mystery!

The book didn’t really have any cons, in my opinion. The only complaint that comes to mind was my frequent annoyance with Charlotte’s emotional state. It wasn’t done poorly, and it fit her very well as I character, I just found it frustrating as a reader. This may be due, in part, to my knowledge and love of the original Sherlock Holmes, though.

Conclusion

I rated this book 4.5 stars because it was technically sound, well written, and has wonderfully developed characters. I took away half of a star due to my personal grievance with the emotional instability of Charlotte. It really was highly obnoxious. I will warn readers that the book does discuss rape but not in any detail. It includes drugs, drug use, and foul language. The cursing isn’t excessive, though, so it was easily tolorable. Due to the content I determined this book is meant for readers 13 years of age or older.

Favorite Quotes

“I felt like I was being pulled through a dark, dank wardrobe into some boozy Narnia.”

“She was altogether colorless and severe, and still she managed to be beautiful. Not the way that girls are generally beautiful, but more like the way a knife catches the light, makes you want to take it in your hands.”

“I was maybe the only person to ever have his imaginary friend made real.”

“Gossip was Sherringford’s favorite currency.”

“There was a flimsiness to all of those friendships, like a strong wind might blow them away.”

“Really, with role models like him, it was surprising I wasn’t already in jail.”

“If she was a place unto herself, I might have been lost, blindfolded, and cursing my bad directions, but I think I saw more of it than anyone else, all the same.”

“Distrust everything, if you have to. But trust the hours. Haven’t they carried you everywhere, up to now?”

“Her brain was like a bear trap: nothing escaped alive.”

“People would much rather correct you than answer a straightforward question.”

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