... supernatural Sherlock fanfiction (wingfic, to be precise)...the sooner you embrace this sincerely dorky premise, the sooner you can get to all the fun ... a Victorian mystery remix the likes of which I haven’t seen since steampunk’s heyday ... As someone that was ultimately disappointed in BBC’s Sherlock, it was a pleasure to read a kinder, more developed version of these characters that didn’t sacrifice the thrill of deduction and a protagonist much smarter than his readers ... Their treatment of Doyle’s identity as a surprise/reveal may turn some readers off—which, fair enough—but as a trans reader myself, I loved being fooled into misinterpreting Doyle’s transness as a wolf/hound transformation (trans guys are werewolves; don’t ask me to explain myself), and I loved that there was no real 'reason' for the reveal, it was for its own sake. It’s nice to have a story featuring a trans character that doesn’t focus on their transition or their pain ... All of that being said, there’s quite a lot in Angel of the Crows that exists for its own sake and that did ultimately leave me feeling less in love than I otherwise might have been. There are moments where the fourth wall is—maybe not broken, but certainly questioned—and where canonical material is referenced in a rather leading way, and I often felt as if these moments were going to build into some kind of meta-commentary or universe-bending reveal—something otherwise bigger than the mystery stories in-and-of themselves. But the novel just… never goes there. It is very much just itself. You get what you paid for ... And I like what I paid for. The novel is utterly bizarre, for one thing. The stories are amusing and thrilling, and they fully function as the pastiches of Victorian story-telling that they aspire to. The heroes are the best sort of charmingly-flawed outcasts, and I could go on for days about what a sweetheart this interpretation of Sherlock is. But—especially as a novel, not as a collection of disparate stories—there could have been more meat to it, more substance, more to say. Besides not doing anything to break the form, timeline, or narrative, there aren’t any real themes so much as motifs—various instances of the harm of gender roles and imperialism, but no throughline of commentary. It bothered me less in the heat of the reading process, and more in hindsight and in the final 20 pages or so, which was when I expected the motifs to be brought together somehow. The resolution of the Jack the Ripper case certainly didn’t prove enough of a unifier, however riveting its final scene may be.
A twisting, surprising Sherlock bend in a world of angels, hell-hounds, and other supernatural beings. Readers may know the names and the stories, but here is an original tale ... Addison enthralls readers with her character-driven action, intriguing expressions of identity and sexuality, and a world set in an alternate 1880s London that captures the imagination.
While very different in tone from her last work, Addison’s adept characterization and world building elevate The Angel of Crows above the run-of-the-mill Holmes pastiche. Highly recommended for fans of Kim Newman’s Anno-Dracula (1993) and Ian R. MacLeod’s The Light Ages (2003) or anyone looking to be immersed in a well-wrought alternate historical fantasy world.