The Angel of the Crows
by Katherine Addison
- Genre: Urban Fantasy
- Publisher: Tor Books
- Length: 427 pages
- Available: June 23, 2020
About the Author: Katherine Addison’s short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. As Sarah Monette, she is the author of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series and the Locus Award-winning novel The Goblin Emperor; and co-author, with Elizabeth Bear, of the Iskryne series. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin.
Summary: In a fantastical 1800’s London, the iconic stories of Sherlock Holmes are re-imagined with Crow, an angel and freelance detective who wards over the streets of London, deducing his way through one puzzling case after another. With the help of his partner and flatmate Dr. J. H. Doyle, an Army surgeon turned hell-hound, Crow must navigate a city inhabited with vampires, werewolves, and even Jack the Ripper if he wants to crack the case. With some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous mysteries on the line, including “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, “The Adventure of Speckled Band”, and “The Sign of the Four”, the pair will soon learn that if they eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
To many readers and writers, there exists a line that clearly separates the worlds of fiction and fanfiction—but don’t try and tell Katherine Addison that. The Angel of the Crows, her ambitious, fantastical ode to Sherlock Holmes, has put forth a great deal of effort to blur this line, creating an engaging story that, while standing on its own two feet, borrows heavily—and unapologetically—from an already rich universe filled with its own fanbase, lore, and presumptions. It’s dangerous ground that Addison walks, as I’m sure many loyal Sherlock Holmes fans would agree, but that doesn’t make the novel any less engaging or worthy of reading. With its colorful, fleshed-out world, cleverly interwoven mysteries, and perky Sherlock charm, fans and newbies alike are sure to find value in this new interpretation.
It is where The Angel of the Crows steps away from the classics, though, that it shines the brightest. Watching vampires and hellhounds at home in Victorian England is a great deal of fun, but it’s the novel’s treatment of gender roles, fluidity, and identity that makes it a striking example of contemporary fantasy. Tucked away in this seemingly superficial story lies a very compelling facet that single-handedly pushes the stuffy, antiquated character builds of the 19th century out the door and makes way for the kind of strong leads we both want and need in today’s world. Without giving away too much, it is safe to say that the archetypes left aging in the corner by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have been revitalized in the best way possible, giving Katherine Addison agency when it comes to how future generations will view the evolution of Sherlock Holmes in popular culture.
Baker street is alive and well in this fantasy driven, fanfiction-esque look at one of the most popular literary characters the world has ever seen. Whether coming into The Angel of the Crows as a diehard fan of the original series and adaptations, or just as a new reader looking for a mystery novel that has been cleverly woven into a supernatural setting, it is clear that Katherine Addison has us all exclaiming, yet again, that the game is afoot!