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Blog Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #1) by Andrew Lane

Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #1) by Andrew Lane

By Verushka Anand | Book Reviews, Kids

Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins Series #1) by Andrew Lane

A book review by Verushka Anand

Written by Andrew Lane, Death Cloud, is an engaging, well-written story, which is so much fun to read that the pages almost turn themselves, is a mysterious narrative, which keeps the reader on the tip of their toes, trying to work out the mastermind. Its perplexing plot, about bees and revenge against the British Empire, not only brings fictional characters to life but introduces an intuitive insight into life in the Victorian era. The story creates powerful emotional effects and helps the reader associate with Sherlock in the most life-affirming, unexpected way, delivering young Sherlock Holmes, a character whom readers will remember forever.

Andrew Lane, who also writes as Andy Lane, is a British author and journalist, born on 17th April 1963, has written novels for the Virgin New Adventures, parts of ‘Doctor Who’ (the famous TV series), some adult novels written under a pseudonym and characters like James Bond and Wallace and Gromit. He has also written for the ‘Radio Times’ and its US equivalent, ‘TV Guide’. He lives in Dorset with his wife and son. Andrew’s passion for the original novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his determination to create an authentic teenage Sherlock Holmes, made him the perfect choice to work with the Conan Doyle Estate to reinvent the world’s most famous detective in this new series.

‘Young Sherlock Death Cloud’, the first of the eight books in this spectacular series, zooms in on the life of young Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant 14-year-old, who is somewhat of a lone wolf but longs for friendship. When Sherlock has to go to Aunt Anna Holmes and Uncle Sherrinford Holmes for the holidays, Sherlock is depressed. With his father stuck in India, Mycroft (his brother) working ‘many hours a day’, and his mother and sister unwell, Sherlock is forced on to his uncle and aunt for a life of misery or so he thinks; little does he know that his life is going to turn upside down. When he meets his new sidekick, Matthew Arnatt (also known as Matty Arnatt), who is an orphan because his father died in war and his mother died of consumption, his life makes a turn for change, but not always a good change. Soon Matty begins to trust Sherlock and hopes he might give a clue and help him realise what caused that ‘scream’ which according to Matty, only happens when someone is in ‘mortal fear of their life’. This dangerous, life-taking soul, which could be ‘the Black Plague’ but is more famously known as the ‘Death Cloud’, is now wandering in Farnham, Surrey, and is up to Sherlock to stop it.

With the help of Amyus Crowe (his American tutor), Virginia Crowe (Amyus Crowe’s daughter), and last but not least, his excellent sidekick (Matty Arnatt), Sherlock now must embark on a dangerous adventure to find out who and how to stop whoever is behind the mysterious deaths...

One particular character, Virginia Crowe caught my attention and is by far my favourite character in the book. Virginia Crowe, also known as ‘Ginny’ by her father, Amyus Crowe, is a young girl with red hair, violet eyes, tanned skin, and freckles. She is a free-spirited, outspoken girl, who will never hide away in danger and is an excellent eavesdropper. This is shown when she hides on a boat spying on the culprit’s men, even though her father told her to go to the hotel and stay out of harm’s way. Also, she listens at the door when Sherlock tells Amyus Crowe about the bee solution. Another key feature about her is that she likes to ride horses like a man (women were supposed to go slow on horses with both legs on one side in the Victorian era and wear dresses).

Overall, I think this is an interesting, eye-catching, can-not-put-down book aimed at an audience of teenagers to young adult readers. Its jam-packed story, full of adventure, excitement and mystery, deserves an 8/10 rating. It gives the reader a viable intuition into what life was like in the 1960s. One thing that could be better is if Deepdene School could be elaborated a bit more, so we could understand what life at the rich boarding school was like for Sherlock. It was an extremely captivating story and I look forward to reading the next book in the series (Red Leech).

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 8/10

Published: Sun 20th Nov 2022

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