The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison – Book Review!

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The tagline of this book is ‘This is not the book you are expecting‘ and I think that sums up The Angel of the Crows fairly well. What you should know going in is that it’s a fairly to the book re-telling of Sherlock Holmes but in an almost fan fiction style, complete with fantasy world, intricate magic system & queer characters. Sherlock’s an Angel and Watson is, well… I can’t tell you but he certainly isn’t the Watson you think he is. You have to take this book at face value, it definitely still deals with some important and timely themes, but if you’re looking for a wholly unique story line to go with it then you might be a little disappointed.

The Angel of the Crows is seriously hard to sum up, mainly because, although we have the one underlying case running throughout the story, it flits between a lot of well known Sherlock cases, some of which get a few chapters and others only a few pages. I did love the nod to the original works, especially when some of my favourite cases popped up and, though Addison stuck to the original plot well enough, her addition of magic and the supernatural twist made sure that we as the readers were kept on our toes.

Without a doubt the thing I loved most about this book was the characters. Our ‘Sherlock’ is an Angel called Crow. In this ‘world’ proper Angel’s are tied to a habitation be it a pub, train station, cathedral etc. but Crow is one of a kind. After his ‘dominion’ was destroyed he should have fallen, become an ‘evil’ Angel, or become one of the Nameless, Angels with no dominion to look after who have no knowledge of who they are or have ever been, but he managed something no other Angel in history ever has, to neither fall nor become nameless, rather managing to make the entirety of London his dominion. Not being human he can be tactless, a little overbearing and has an insatiable urge for knowledge, basically the perfect Holmes.

Dr Watson, or Dr Doyle as he is known in this book is recently returned from Afghanistan with a magical injury inflicted by one of the Fallen and, in looking for a cheap place to stay, ends up rooming with our notorious Angel. His injury, medical knowledge and history draw Crow to him like a moth to a flame and before long he ends up embroiled in Crow’s mystery solving shenanigans. Doyle is gruff, withdrawn and a little fed up with life, but spending time with Crow, helping to solve the mysteries and inserting himself more in the supernatural side of London bring him out of his shell a little and allow him to accept things about himself he had been unable to before.

While Addison may stick to the script when it comes to the cases Crow and Doyle investigate, the addition of her fantasy world make sure that were never 100% sure where the story will go. I will say there’s no easing into the story or magic system, we’re simply left to pick up things as we go and it did take me a while to get into the swing of things. Her supernatural London is filled with Vampires, Werewolves, Hemophages (you don’t want to know), Angels and even Hell Hounds, which certainly make for some intriguing twists to the stories we know and love, I just would have liked to be eased into it a little more. Knowing a friend of mine loved this book meant sure that I kept reading, but had I not had a good inkling that I would love it, I may have given up around 15% in.

As a whole I did thoroughly enjoy this, I just wish that Addison had made this story more her own. Instead of throwing out Sherlock cases that we already knew, I would have loved for her to bring a mystery of her own to the story, if only to keep us on our toes a little more. Like I said, if you take it as it is, I’m 100% sure you will love it. It’s witty, a little scary in parts (I’m a wimp ok), and filled with some brilliant characters, some we know and love from the Holmes series, and some new to us, but all together it makes for one fun and fast paced read.

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