Today I’m going to be reviewing A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. I’m trying a bit of a different style than usual, just to try some different reviewing methods and see what works best for me and provides the most effective review. A huge thank you to Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of this book!
A Study in Charlotte is narrated by Jamie Watson, who is a junior in high school that just got offered a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a boarding school in Connecticut. He leaves his mother and sister in London, with his school right near his father’s house. While there, he meets Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes (yes, Jamie is the great-great-great grandson of John Watson). The two are forced to work together when there is a murder at Sherringford, with the two of them as the prime suspects.
I read A Study in Charlotte in two days, but the plot still felt a bit slow at points. Neither Jamie or Charlotte were completely honest with the other, causing for a lot of time that felt wasted in the case. While still entertaining, it felt like filler details that I was reading. I enjoyed taking my time with it, but I typically fly through murder mysteries in a day since they are usually so fast-paced and gripping. There was less urgency on the deaths this time, but I was interested in what was happening to the characters in their personal lives.
If you remember my thoughts on Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that so much of the story derived from Harry Potter. I was still able to enjoy the story, but it was a constant nagging thought in the back of my mind that it derived from someone else’s work. I had the same problems here because so much of the plot came from Sherlock Holmes, especially since the crime was exactly the same as that in The Adventure of the Speckled Band. While I understand why the author did that, I feel like it’s a bit of a creative cop-out and blurs the line between creative license and plagiarism. Obviously, the author is not plagiarizing or this book would not be published, but this writing method still is not something that settles well with me.
I’ve never actually read a Sherlock Holmes books or even watched one of the many adaptations, but the parallels were still explained well enough that I understood them. With the mention of any Sherlock Holmes story, Jamie explained the entire case, which was helpful for me to understand what was going on. He even mentioned the falsehoods that occurred in stories like The Adventure of the Speckled Band, which added to some play on the characters that they were “real people with real flaws.” Even the fact that Charlotte and Jamie only referred to each other as Watson and Holmes felt like they were toddlers playing dress up in adult clothes, but still able to make it work for them.
The book had a lot of fun, snarky humor that I appreciated. Charlotte was a sassy character in general, which added a lot of comic relief in the midst of the death in the story. There were also some really fun scenes, including the breakfast scene as well as the homecoming scene. In the breakfast scene, Charlotte and Jamie are ordering breakfast for each other and the waiter gets super cranky and retorts, “Happy 50th anniversary.” I just found it funny because no one would ever immediately react to a situation with that comeback, but it still worked.
That’s the end of my non-spoiler thoughts, so come back when you’ve read A Study in Charlotte to discuss. Please comment below about your thoughts on this new review format rather than just my regular general summary and character breakdown. Also let me know if you’ve read Sherlock Holmes and what story you would recommend for me to read. Goodbye non-spoilers!
Another one of my biggest complaints was that Charlotte somewhat felt like a manic pixie dream girl. As we got further into the book, she felt more like a real character because we got to know her better rather than just Jamie’s image of her. The way she was portrayed also seemed to glorify drugs until she said that Dobson raped her while she was on them. It didn’t seem to have affected her until the very last chapters, but I still felt horribly for her all the same. The fact that the nurse orchestrated it made me even angrier because it was such a bad thing to do to someone.
While I wasn’t Charlotte’s biggest fan, I loved Charlotte and Jamie’s relationship. I felt like there was the right amount of buildup to them deciding to be a couple, as this could’ve easily been insta-love. Even their friendship made me happy to see because Charlotte allowed herself to care about someone else’s life. It allowed for a lot of growth in both their characters and was very cute to read about.
The rules of being friends with a Holmes were very funny to me, seeing how many there were and how outrageous they became. Were they written in Sherlock Holmes, or are they unique to this book?
I knew that the nurse was going to be responsible for the murder before it was solved, but I liked that the author was able to include twists about her motives. I completely did not see her being August’s fiancee coming.
The part about the bugs being for the roommate Tom and the English teacher confused me just because Tom’s explanation was very abrupt. It felt sort of random and also a bit unnecessary. I thought it was hilarious that there was a police officer just sitting outside their dorm as they were fighting, but he didn’t even bother to check on them.
So those are all my thoughts about A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. Again, thank you to Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins for sending me an ARC to review. Please comment below what your favorite part was, I think mine was the breakfast scene, and if you’ve read Sherlock Holmes.
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Thank you for reading and I’ll talk to you soon,