Thursday, December 3, 2020

Book Review: The Angel of Crows

The Angel of the Crows 
by Katherine Addison
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 32%
Just not enough here to keep me going. Let's delve into the specifics below.

Holmes Mysteries
I came to a realization as I was reading this, and investigated it in other reviews to see if I was correct (which I was), all the mysteries (except for Jack the Ripper) are all well known Sherlock Holmes cases. They all resolve the same as the originals. For someone like me who is familiar with many of the original Holmes stories and knows how most of them are solved this took away a lot of appeal. I get that it's supposed to be about nostalgia and a new setting for Holmes (plus add in Jack the Ripper) but honestly I just can't bring myself to navigate this dense writing just to read outcomes to mysteries I already know.

Jack the Ripper
While still slightly intrigued about how Katherine Addison plans to resolve the Jack the Ripper case in this story; it wasn't enough to keep me going. The writing is absolutely beautiful here, and her set-up of the snippets of the Ripper's point of view are clever. I absolutely loved each one of them. It's almost tempting to just read those pieces of the story until the end of the book; but that feels sacrilege and I just can't bring myself to disrespect the effort Addison has put into this. Additionally my greatest fear, and one of the reasons I also didn't finish this, is that the Ripper cases will end unsolved as they are today in this story. A thoroughly unsatisfying end that I just wanted to avoid.

Beautifully Written, but Dense
Some books are just so beautifully written you don't care what the story is. Addison almost achieves that for me here. This is a gorgeous piece of prose taken on it's own without any other context. But it's also dense. The writing matches the Victoria era on the story and really puts you into the place and time of London. It's tragic that instead of finding this glorious, I instead found this to be more dragging density along with the plot that didn't have enough to keep me interested.

I am sure there will be people who think this is the best book ever. And I wouldn't disagree with them. It just wasn't for me at the moment I had it in hand. There is a possibility I could come back to it if the mood strikes me to want some Holmes stories repurposed. The density of the story reminds me of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (although not quite that epic with footnotes) which is one of my absolute favourite books of all time. So I may be inclined to blame the pandemic for my inability to focus, or I really just found this too predictable knowing that the Holmes mysteries will all be resolved in the way I already know.
I would say if you have any interest in this book give it a shot. But don't be afraid to put it down early if it's just not for you.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

Holmes adaptions are just like all the fairy tale retellings out there: There are a LOT; many of them are great, but too much of a good thing can still get boring! I noticed with the fairy tales, I really enjoy them, but have to pace myself and not read two different ones back to back. This one sounds like I could enjoy it, at the right time and place :)