Sherlock Holmes is one of those characters that writers simply can’t resist reinventing. As nice as it is to see how different writers’ takes on the quintessential detective, it seems the shelves of your local independent bookshop are rammed full with clever reinventions of the well-loved hero.
‘Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell’ stands out from the crowd by being one of the more interesting remixes of Conan Doyle’s classic. It’s pits both Watson and Holmes against another iconic figure; namely Clive Barker’s Cenobites, better known to some as the demons from The Hellraiser movies. It’s a surprisingly powerful mix, but it makes a lot of sense. Holmes’s greatest power is his insatiable curiosity, and the infamous puzzle box is designed to lure all sorts of hungers into Hell.
The story begins with the great detective attempting to solve a most mysterious disappearance of a chap called Frank Cotton. A locked room, a vanished person and the only clues are a small amount of blood, the feint smell of vanilla and a box shaped space on the floor. Sherlock’s Victorian world provides a perfect sort of backdrop for the world of Hellraiser. The unspoken sense that scandal is just around the corner suits Barker’s monsters perfectly; Kane manages to create both a credible Holmes mystery, and yet at the same time captures the horror of Hellraiser perfectly.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise; Kane is one of the leading authorities on all things Hellraiser, and a very well regarded horror novelist. The book is littered with many recognisable references to both worlds, and it’s a delight to be able to join the dots between the two. The author’s enthusiasm does become a little obvious at points as it dives deeply into the Hellraiser mythos, but this simply adds to both the horror and joy of the work.
‘Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell’ is a fun and rapid read. If you like horror, and enjoy the Hellraiser films, this will likely make you lick your lips in anticipation. It’s a horror B-movie of a book, filled with leather, chains and angst. Beautifully bloody fun, with just enough mystery to be delicious.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SERVANTS OF HELL / AUTHOR: PAUL KANE / PUBLISHER: SOLARIS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW