The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

AngelofMy TL:DR Five Word Review : Sherlock Holmes Winged Fantasy fanfic

Okay, so, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  The original description is very mysterious indeed and certainly intrigued me enough to request a copy even if the author’s name hadn’t already stoked my attention to unusual heights.  Here’s a copy of the original description:

‘This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

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.’

Overall, I enjoyed this and it was entertaining.  I do have slightly mixed feelings however – but then, at the same time that feeling is dependent on whether or not this is intended to be a series.  If more books are planned then I would put my mixed feelings down to that certain feeling you experience having read the first in a series of books where you’re left wanting  more and with  gaps in your knowledge that you expect to be filled in as future instalments are forthcoming. If this is a standalone then I’m left with that feeling of not being quite sated but still having enjoyed a revisit with some old storylines and characters.  What I am puzzled about is why the whole ‘Sherlock and Watson revamped’ scenario is left off from the blurb.  I’m always interested in any reimaginings that include this pair and also usually onboard for anything including Jack the Ripper so putting the two together is a double whammy for me.

What did I really enjoy about Angel of Crows:

This is an alternate London where fantastic creatures live alongside the everyday mundane.  Vampires, Werewolves and Angels to name but a few. Holmes and Watson are themselves quite far removed from the original characters in more ways than a simple change of name – here called Crow and Doyle.  Crow, for example, is an angel and in truly infuriating style I’m not going to tell you anything about Doyle, other than he’s a military doctor now retired from service following injury.  Both of them have secrets.  That is all I’m prepared to say.  I think writing Holmes as an Angel was a brilliant idea.  His character always had a sort of ‘ethereal’ or aloof feel to it in the original stories and he came across as a little detached which is perfectly portrayed here.  I loved the friendship that develops between the two and their interactions and the way they support each other. On top of that I loved the idea that Angels are linked to a particular residence which makes me want to go and look up places like the Angel Inn.

Angel of Crows includes a retelling of a number of the original stories and uses the Ripper cases as a backdrop with Crow becoming heavily involved with the hunt for the killer. This allows a common thread to run throughout the story which is also aided by each individual storyline introducing new threads.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this might have benefitted by focusing more on one particular story rather than incorporating so many of the originals, it gave the stories a slightly rushed feel.  There was also a rather skimpy feel to the usual powers of deduction and reasoning behind Crows assumptions, in fact he had a rather downplayed  role in that respect.  I would also like to know more about the supernatural aspects of this world – although if this is a series rather than a standalone  – that might be further developed in future instalments.

Overall I had a good time with this.  I enjoyed the writing and revisiting these characters albeit in a different guise.  I think the author’s love for this is also very clear and I would happily read more stories if that is the plan.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 out of 5 stars