Book Review 201 // The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove

Time for something a little different. Dusting off the old Kindle to delve into an intriguing re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes. What happens when Watson and Holmes come face to face with Cosmic Horrors? Everyone's favourite detective will face off against Lovecraftian threats in the opening title of a new to me series by James Lovegrove.

Title: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

Author: James Lovegrove

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Blurb: It is the autumn of 1880, and Dr John Watson has just returned from Afghanistan. Badly injured and desperate to forget a nightmarish expedition that left him doubting his sanity, Watson is close to destitution when he meets the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes, who is investigating a series of deaths in the Shadwell district of London. Several bodies have been found, the victims appearing to have starved to death over several weeks, and yet they were reported alive and well mere days before. Moreover, there are disturbing reports of creeping shadows that inspire dread in any who stray too close. Holmes deduces a connection between the deaths and a sinister drug lord who is seeking to expand his criminal empire. Yet both he and Watson are soon forced to accept that there are forces at work far more powerful than they could ever have imagined. Forces that can be summoned, if one is brave – or mad – enough to dare…

Format: 448 pages, Kindle Edition 


As a late teen, I remember reading the Sherlock holmes story and enjoying them. To the point that I may have to revisit them soon. I also want a few of the Lovecraftian tales, so merging them seems to be a match made in heaven. I purchased this because it was on sale; so completely obvious to the whole Cthulhu/Holmes fandom that it seems to exist. Since reading this title, I have discovered many more books on the subject.

The idea is a simple one. Take the infamous and logical Holmes and throw him into an adventure that even his keen mind will struggle with. Gaslight Cthuhlu is always fun as it is easy to merge modern science with tradition and folklore and create stunning settings.

This book starts like all good triliogies do; it explains everything. We get a retelling of Watson and Holmes's first meeting, but in this book, it is the accurate retelling, not the public writings we have all come to love. This is written in a way to represent Watson's actual notes and thoughts of their time together before being made safe for the public. What I enjoyed most was that the case of the book is more of a background piece, designed to get the characters from A to B. Instead, the book focuses on the Occult's initial experiences and how the two men are forever changed.

Holmes and Watson are ultimately portrayed very well in the novel. With slight tweaks, they delve and allow a spiritual side to emerge in them both, which is very well done by Lovegrove. I also enjoyed that Watson has a more significant role in the story; he is a more rounded-out character than the supporting archtype of the Doyle tales (at least from what I remember). It was also lovely to see some of Watson's background developing that allowed him to be of use rather than just there to speak.

Overall, Lovegrove honoured the Doyle works and still managed to make them his own. I want to check out the following two books and expect to see them soon.

Have you read these titles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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