The Revenant of Thraxton Hall (The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) by Vaughn Entwistle
I read the Revenant of Thraxton Hall a couple of weeks ago but took a little time to put together my thoughts. I was really keen to read this book as I’ve read most (if not all) of the Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, albeit quite a while ago, and I’m always happy for any pretext on which to return.
Firstly, however, let me not lead you astray and make plain that The Revenant of Thraxton Hall is not about Sherlock Holmes (although he does make a few brief appearances). The main characters are Arthur Conan Doyle and his friend Oscar Wilde. At the start of the story Doyle has finally killed off his literary genius and the majority of London’s populace are not best pleased. The people love Holmes and Doyle swiftly becomes London’s most hated man. A timely intervention temporarily removes him from the scene of rising anger when Hope Thraxton invites him to her country manor. Hope is a medium and believes she has received a premonition concerning a murder – her own – at which Doyle is present.
It’s an interesting premise to base an investigation upon, a possible death, especially as it seems to be the very opposite of the crime stories that Doyle actually wrote about.
So, Doyle and Wilde make their way across the country to attend a meeting of the Society for Physical Research and potentially prevent a murder.
This book definitely makes a good start to what promises to be an interesting story. I think the combination of Doyle and Wilde promises to be a very entertaining duo although I confess that there wasn’t as much wit as I expected in this story. Like I said, though, this is the initial set up.
I enjoyed the setting of Thraxton Hall. A large and gothic family home with plenty of ominous and foreboding stories about the former inhabitants. Dark and gloomy pictures line the corridors and the whole place feels sinister. The hall itself is remotely situated – somewhat reminiscent of the manor in The Hound of the Baskervilles and in fact is temporarily cut off from the outside world when the stream near the property breaks it’s banks preventing travel of any kind.
I did have a few criticisms although not enough to prevent me from reading further instalments. For example, and I don’t know how closely to the truth this story is based, but at the start of the story Doyle’s wife is near to departing this world. She suffers from Consumption and her condition is steadily deteriorating. Given that, and the love and care that Doyle seems to show his wife at the start of the story I was a little surprised at how very easily taken he was with Hope Thraxton. I don’t know, it just seemed a little out of character that he was either ogling her or fantasising about potentially being together when his wife wasn’t yet in the grave! A minor point but it did irritate me a little. I think the biggest surprise for me was the paranormal aspects of this story. Which isn’t really a criticism as I do enjoy a good paranormal story. I was just a little taken aback that ghosts and the like made an appearance here. I think I was expecting Doyle to uncover the whole affair as a huge hoax – which is more to do with my own jumping to conclusions and expecting scientific and logical reasonings behind the whole plot. As it happens, and as I’ve now had time to reflect a little more, I quite like that this story includes this aspect as it is so unexpected and contrary to the Holmes stories, plus it lends quite a lot of scope for future instalments.
On the whole I think this was a good start to the series, I didn’t absolutely love it but I think it has a lot of potential. If you enjoy a bit of a mystery with a gothic feel and characters that you feel you already know then give this a read.
I received a copy of this from Netgalley in return for a honest review. The above is my own opinion.