Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 16/05/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 400pp
Summed up in a word: Hilarious
After reading A Study In Brimstone I jumped straight into The Hell-Hound Of The Baskervilles. I didn’t think G. S. Denning could get any funnier or more absurd… I was wrong. I have so many favourite moments with this book, the imagery that Denning conjures in your mind is insanely entertaining. If you have not read the first instalment then read my review here. I hope that Denning decides to continue this series as it brings me so much joy and that is hard to find a lot of the time. Check out my full review below and pick up these books as soon as you can.
The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell hound, one assumes.
I was hoping that Denning could take this series to another level and he most certainly did that. Please go and check out my review of A Study In Brimstone (ASIB) before you read this review. The Hell Hound of the Baskervilles reverses the format of the previous novel, in which there are several smaller stories before a large 218 page main story, and I think this works much better. ASIB ended on a cliff-hanger of sorts and this novel picks up shortly after that. Holmes was taken over by Moriarty (they share the same body) and Watson decided, in everyone’s best interest, to kill Warlock and prevent any chaos from befalling the world. Being a Warlock, Watson’s multiple attempts to murder Holmes are never totally successful.
At the beginning of TH-HOTB Watson is trying to figure what to do with Warlock’s ‘corpse’ when a case comes straight to 221B Baker Street. A priceless and magical artifact has been stolen and Holmes/Watson are needed to solve the case. Watson sets out to figure out the case on his own and the outcome of the investigation reveals a way to cure Holmes. I thought this novel was even funnier than the last. Undead Holmes is hilarious and the duo antics are another level of brilliant. Denning’s writing is consistently hilarious and he even ventures out of the books comedy comfort zone towards the end. Adding some emotional depth to the main story was a welcomed (and somewhat sad) surprise. Denning’s confidence in the series definitely shows here as the cases are getting more far-fetched and complicated.
The array of stories in TH-HOTB is wide and varied. With ancient artifacts, portals into other realms and battle tricycles being just some of the acts on show here, you will never be bored. I do think that, for me, the book peaked a bit early. My favourite story in this novel is most definitely the second outing, where Undead-Holmes and Watson set out to solve the disappearance of a race-horse before it is set to race that day. In the 20 mins they have to find the horse, Holmes goes wild with his abilities and it is belly-achingly funny. The imagery that Denning can conjure up at a moments notice is superb. I was slightly confused about the other smaller stories, I think Denning went a tad over complicated with a few of the ideas/plot-lines. But I did manage to follow most of the story-lines and was pleased with where Denning has taken this series. The smaller cases are certainly more bold and ludicrous than the previous novel but I think Denning handled it well.
The most important element of this book is the main plot which I felt was much better than the first book. The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles takes up 218 pages of this novel and it is a well rounded, entertaining and emotional (at times) adventure that touches on quite a bit of the original Sherlock lore. The same cast of characters return to join in, Lestrade, Grogsson and Moriarty are all involved and they are as menacing as ever. The illustrations are even better this time round too, capturing amusing and insightful moments.
I highly recommend this series to all those readers who love a good laugh and have an open mind for fantasy. I don’t limit my recommendation to those who have a previous understanding of Sherlock Holmes. This series is inspired by the classic lore but it has its own soul and merits. I cannot wait for the third entry in this series, I think that will be 2018 but I will remain keenly aware of its impending release. Denning has crafted an ingenious alternative to a tried and tested formula. This will please Sherlock fans, fantasy fans and people who just love to laugh.
About G. S. Denning
A native of Seattle, G. S. Denning began working as a professional comedian in 1995. He’s been an entertainer at Disney World, Seattle Theatersports, Orlando Theatersports and Jet City Theater now, tired of watching his creations vanish as soon as he’s done saying them, he’s begun to write it all down. His first book Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone is available now. The sequel, Warlock Holmes: Hell Hound of the Baskervilles is due out from Titan Books May 16, 2017. Bio was found at: scificons.com
Goodreads: G. S. Denning