Some ideas are so obvious and clever that you wonder why it’s taken the world so long to come up with them. Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone is a good idea, take the world of Sherlock Holmes and rather than making the central character an incredibly astute detective, turn him into a wizard.
G. S. Denning has taken a bundle of classic Holmes tales and rewritten them based on this simple premise. Warlock, unlike Sherlock, is a brilliant wizard filled with arcane might and ability. Alas, his focus on matters arcane and powerful have also meant that he’s not really focused on the real world. The result is that Watson is the true detective, using his skills and perception as an army doctor to fill in the gaps on the cases. Meanwhile, Warlock uses his supernatural powers to navigate the choppy waters of criminal underworld, in a world where unnatural creatures are lurking in every corner.
Of course, this is all still set in Victorian London. Most good subjects of the Empire know that magic isn’t really, so happily look the other way when confronted by were-rat urchins and the like. Inspector Lestrade is a vampire, and Inspector Torg Grogsson is literally an ogre. The rest of Scotland Yard don’t like them or Holmes, so that hasn’t changed.
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone is clever and funny supernatural silliness. Dennings has twisted and warped Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world, to make it strange and sinisterly magical, and yet he’s somehow managed to preserve the core charm of the original stories. Watson is still as brave and loyal as he always was, and Warlock is every bit the genius Sherlock is, all be it in an entire different way and with more buffoonery. The cases themselves work well as stories in their own right, though each one is also a parody of sorts of the original stories. In a market filled with Sherlock style reworkings, this stands out as clever and well done. If you ever wondered how much better Sherlock’s would be if people could hurl hellfire at each other, well this one is for you.
WARLOCK HOLMES- A STUDY IN BRIMSTONE / AUTHOR: G. S. DENNING / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: MAY 27TH