Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning

Sherlock Holmes. A name, that when spoken, brings to mind a genius. A man who uses his brilliant mind to solve the most puzzling of crimes. A man whose name has become synonymous with deduction and reason.

Warlock Holmes, on the other hand, is an idiot who couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. He is a good man with an incredible amount of arcane power and the might of a thousand demons at his beck and call; but he is also brilliantly dim. Fortunately he has his newest flatmate, Dr. John Watson, to steer him on the straight and narrow. And perhaps prevent Holmes from accidentally bringing down Armageddon on us all.

Friends of mine and fans of this blog will know I adore the character Sherlock Holmes. After being introduced to his original stories in high school (more years ago than I would care to admit), he wormed his way in to my heart and still he resides as one of my favorite characters. So when I saw this newest retelling of the familiar Holmes stories, I of course was intrigued.

Warlock Holmes is one of those books that I am so glad I bought for I will definitely be reading it again. Denning has a firm grasp of the original stories which allows him to mimic them while still leaving them recognizable. For instance, the first story is a retelling of the original ‘A Study in Scarlet’ which introduces us to Holmes and Watson. In the original story, we first see Holmes flogging a dead body with the intent of learning of post-mortem bruising patterns. In Denning’s version, Holmes is beating a dead body with a cricket bat because it is supposedly a zombie and wishes to dine on Holmes’ brain.

Personally, I found how Denning gave the familiar characters a complete makeover. He has taken two well known individuals and practically switched bodies on them. It is Watson who does the observing and deducing with Holmes being along for the ride. Denning does this with all the characters; from Moriarty to Mrs. Hudson; and it makes for a well done and refreshing read.

It isn’t often that I find a book that actually makes me laugh out loud, but I found myself doing just that several times while reading Warlock Holmes. Light hearted yet with a macabre side, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recommend this one highly to all my readers and eagerly await the next novel!

The Detective (Johannes Cabal #2) by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal; a necromancer of some infamy; often finds himself on the run from one individual or another. This time however, he’s on the run from the local government.

Having stolen the identity of a minor bureaucrat, Cabal takes passage on the Princess Hortense; a passenger airship that is leaving the country (and his enemies) behind. Cabal’s deception seems perfect and as he looks forward to a quiet trip, his plans are dashed when he comes face to face with someone he’d thought left behind. It is the one woman to ever match wits with him, and could potentially blow his cover – Leonie Barrow.

When a fellow passenger appears to throw himself to his death, Cabal’s curiosity gets the better of him and he investigates. His minor efforts result in an attempt on his own life, and then the gloves come off.

Cabal must swallow his price (to an extent) and reluctantly team up with Leonie to discover the murderer. And in the process, discover the secrets within the Princess Hortense herself.

The Detective is the second book in the Johannes Cabal series. I read and reviewed the first book earlier last year and decided to give the second book a go.

As much as I enjoyed the first book, I sadly cannot say the same of the second. While Cabal was still his brash self, he didn’t have as an effective foil as he did in the first book. Here we have Leonie Barrow; and while she is a decent partner to Cabal, she unfortunately doesn’t hold a candle to Cabal’s brother from the first book.

The story itself was also a tad disappointing. There were some points where it just seemed to drag along, not quite sure where it was going. It was as if the story were like the Princess Hortense herself, just drifting along with no real heading.

Several flashback scenes offer us a more detailed look in to Cabal’s past and give us a better idea of the man he used to be. I personally would enjoy seeing more that that man in upcoming books.

A decent addition to the Johannes Cabal series, I found The Detective to be fairly amusing. Readers who enjoyed the first book should give this one a try. I myself am looking forward to the third book, to reading and to reviewing.



The Trinity by K.P. Ambroziak

When Father Stephen Brentwood is brutally killed, his protege Jacob is naturally distraught. It was for Brentwood that Jacob joined the priesthood and only as he digs in to the secrets behind the Father’s murder does the young man realize how deep his own involvement in the conspiracy is.

The truth about Father Brentwood’s murder pulls Jacob further in to the secrets of the church and closer to the elusive head of the Trinity. Once he realizes the Trinity’s plans for him, it is too late. Jacob’s destiny and the Trinity’s plans are too intertwined and neither can exist without the other.

I was fortunate enough to be gifted a copy of The Trinity by its author, K.P. Ambroziak. It was a wonderful and very thoughtful gift – I can’t say no to books!

I was very excited to read The Trinity, books with a religious story line (a la The DaVinci Code, etc) are a niche of books I enjoy reading on occasion. Add to the fact that the author is one I have come to regard as a favorite, and dear reader, you can see why I was eager to read and review the book.

I found The Trinity to be an interesting story, not only for content but for the characters as well. While the story was meant to take place modern day, it had a rather retro feel to it as well. The way the characters acted and spoke, especially the young woman Rebecca, reminded me of shows like Mad Men or any other 50’s era type program. Save for the few mentions of cell phones and other modern gadgets, The Trinity could have easily taken place in that time. Personally, as I read it, I pictured that era in my mind.

One thing that Ambroziak does fairly well in her narratives is giving the reader background information. Too often an author will do what I refer to as an “info dump” and will go in to some long winded narrative that does little to move the story along. Ambroziak does not do that; what little information she gives is relevant to that time and place and that particular character.

For the most part this can be a good thing, yet it can also backfire. Too little information can be just as damaging as too much. And unfortunately, we run in to this problem. Not enough information is given to us about the Trinity and their secrets. Mention is made only briefly of a book that sets the characters on their respective paths in this Church of Eve. As the reader, I found it difficult to parse the core beliefs in this mysterious church. Perhaps if a bit more information were given, it would have been easier to follow.

There were a few plot points I also had problems with. Unfortunately, to go too far in to them would be giving spoilers and I try not to do that. I will say that in this modern day and age, some of what occurred wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. That is why I say it’s easier to see this story as happening in an earlier time.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Trinity. It was a very tense book and kept me on the edge of my seat. The few problems I had are fairly easy to overlook, and I recommend this book to all my readers. Enjoy!

Nod by Adrian Barnes

Dawn breaks over Vancouver, it is a new morning yet no one was able to sleep the night before. Or almost no one. Out of the entire global population perhaps one in ten thousand people can still sleep and they are all sharing the same golden dream.

Panic ensues. Science has shown that after six days of sleep deprivation, psychosis sets in; after four weeks, the body simply shuts down and dies. With no known cause and no known cure a strange new world rises from the ashes of the old.

I wanted to like Nod, I really did. The premise was quite interesting and the blurb on the back drew me in. However as I read, I found myself more and more disappointed. Too many questions were left unanswered, too many story lines were left unexplored. What caused the population to stop sleeping? What was it about those who were able to sleep? Was there some connection between them? Known or unknown? What did the ‘golden world’ the sleepers dreamt of allude to?

Another thing I found disappointing was how I felt no connection with Paul, the main character and narrator. To draw a reader in, the author must create a person the reader can connect to. The character must elicit some kind of emotional response: love or hate, admiration or disgust. Unfortunately, for me, I felt none of those with Paul. I simply did not find him interesting and felt no emotion over his eventual outcome.

Handled differently, Nod could have been a very different story. While there is a great deal of potential, it isn’t explored to its fullest and that makes me quite sad. There are those who enjoyed Nod, but I dear reader am not one of them. Skip this book and perhaps try something else.