Over his 130-year history, Sherlock Holmes has been reimagined in every which way you can imagine. Amazingly, G.S. Denning has come up with a fresh way to twist the Great Detective. This time he is Warlock Holmes, a master magician. What’s more, he’s also a complete buffoon, with Dr. Watson as the true mastermind of the bunch.
That’s the premise of Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles, the second in Denning’s series of horror-comedy mash-up novels. It follows on directly from A Study in Brimstone, with Holmes and Watson fresh from their face-off with evil sorcerer Professor Moriarty. Well, Watson is fresh. Holmes is ever so slightly decomposing due to the fact that he’s a bit dead. To say any more about the plot would be to spoil the many delightfully zany twists and turns to be found within.
Like the first book, the novel is made up of several stories, in homage to Conan Doyle’s originals. Each of them are, sometimes very loosely, inspired by the author’s work (e.g. ‘The Reigate Squire’ becomes ‘The Reigateway to Another World’). Unlike A Study in Brimstone, however, these stories act more as a prelude to the main event – a full-length retelling of the most classic Holmes story of them all. It’s a fresh, enjoyable structure that resembles a sort of TV mini-series in book form.
For Sherlock Holmes fans, a big part of the fun from the novel will come from seeing how Denning subverts the original Conan Doyle stories to humour and surprise us. It’s not just Holmes and Watson who have been altered. One of the most eyebrow-raising and hilarious changes is the decision to transform Mrs Hudson, that kindly old lady, into a rude and abrasive erotica reader. She’s definitely not your housekeeper…
Gleefully irreverent but with a clear love of Conan Doyle’s work that comes shining through, The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles is a great read for lovers of Sherlock Holmes who are open to new takes on the classic hero and anyone looking for a book that is genuinely laugh out loud funny. If you aren’t a giggling wreck by the time you are done, we will eat our (deerstalker) hat.
WARLOCK HOLMES: THE HELL-HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES / AUTHOR: G.S. DENNING / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW