G.S. Denning's Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles was published by Titan Books in May 2017.
Information about G.S. Denning:
G.S. Denning was born in Seattle, Washington. He has published articles for games company Wizards of the Coast, worked as an editor, written a video-game script for Nintendo, and written and performed shows at the Epcot Center, Walt Disney World. With a background in improv, Gabe has performed with Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady, and he currently has a play running in Seattle. He now lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles:
The game's afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty's gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell-hound, one assumes.
A REVIEW OF G.S. DENNING'S WARLOCK HOLMES: THE HELL-HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles is a must-read novel for everyone who loves humorous speculative fiction and mystery fiction. It's an incredibly imaginative and gripping re-telling of Sherlock Holmes stories, because it has been soaked in deliciously black humour. It's simply stunning in its style and execution and should not be missed by anyone who has a taste for quirky stories.
It's great that Sherlockian fiction seems to be blooming nowadays, because many of us love good mystery stories and are looking for new stories to read. Many excellent authors - Vaughn Entwistle, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, Mark A. Latham, James Lovegrove etc - have brought diversity to the genre and have come up with fresh and new ideas that enrich and invigorate it in intriguing ways. By doing so, they have made the genre accessible to a new generation of readers. G.S. Denning belongs to this elite group of authors, because he spices Sherlock Holmes stories with humour and adds plenty of fantasy and horror elements to them.
I'm happy to say that Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles is one of the best and most entertaining Sherlock Holmes adaptations I've ever read, because it's boldly different from other novels. I had high hopes for this novel and all of my hopes and expectations were met, and then some, because G.S. Denning has done the impossible - he has taken his adaptation of Sherlock Holmes to a whole new level of enjoyment and parody. The first novel (Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone) was excellent, but this novel is much better, because the author delves deeper into parodising Sherlock Holmes stories by doubling the fun and adding more elements to the well-known stories.
Based on this novel and its predecessor, it's fair to say that there's only one G.S. Denning. He's one of the best and most gifted authors of humorous speculative fiction, because he has his own distinct writing style and he dares to put a new spin on classic mystery stories. His humour is wonderfully skewed and quirky. It's almost uncanny how effortlessly he makes fun of Sherlockian clichés and classic mystery elements. He doesn't merely settle for parodising Sherlockian fiction, but also renews it with his imaginative storytelling. To be honest, his range of imagination is amazing and his sense of humour is nothing short of astonishing.
This novel consists of the following stories:
- The Adventure of the Blackened Beryls
- Silver Blaze: Murder Horse
- The Reigateway to Another World
- The Adventure of the Solitary Tricyclist
- The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles
Each of the above mentioned stories is excellent, but everything culminates into the brilliant and extraordinary final story, 'The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles', which offers delicious thrills to readers who are familiar with the original story. I'm sure that if you've read Sherlock Holmes stories and are familiar with their plots, you'll find these stories captivating. Many familiar elements and characters (Lestrade, Moriarty etc) are mentioned in them, but the author's way of writing about them is stunningly original.
The happenings in this novel take place after the events in A Study in Brimstone. Life at 221B Baker Street has become complicated for John Watson. He finds himself in quite a trouble, because the landlady, Mrs. Hudson, is asking for rent and he has no way of paying it. Watson tells Mrs. Hudson that Warlock Holmes is vacationing in the south of France. The truth, however, is far more strange and disturbing, because Warlock Holmes' body is rotting in their quarters and is beginning to smell. The body is in such a ghastly condition that it may attract unwanted attention and may lead to Watson's ruination. Watson is so desperate that he thinks of various ways to get rid off the body (he considers burying the body, burning it and even cutting it into pieces and throwing it into Thames). When he hears about the Beryl Coronet, which has magical powers, he decides to use it to bring Warlock Holmes back to life...
This marks the beginning of a chain of events that makes readers laugh out loud with sheer delight, because the protagonists get themselves involved in strange cases which test their wits and endurance.
The characterisation works wonderfully in this novel, because the author does an incredible job at giving the protagonists, John Watson and Warlock Holmes, distinct voices. Watson and Holmes are well-created characters, because they're different from each other. There's satisfying friction between them, because their differences compliment each other.
Warlock Holmes is one of the most eccentric characters ever to appear on the pages of speculative fiction novels, because he's not your normal kind of a character - the original Sherlock Holmes is a master detective, but Warlock Holmes differs from him. His way of using magic and his odd behaviour, not to mention his current appearance, makes him truly unique.
The minor characters are also well-created. I found Mrs Hudson to be especially intriguing, because the author's vision of her questionable taste in smutty romance fiction is hilarious. The vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade and the ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson are also interesting characters.
It's great that G.S. Denning manages to conjure up humour that is both hilarious and sharp, because it makes this novel addictive. His twisted humour will put a smile on your face, because he hits all the right laugh nerves and tickles them in such a profound way that you'll find yourself chuckling and laughing out loud many times. There's something about his sense of humour that reminds me of Terry Pratchett, but his humour is much darker.
One of the best things about this novel is that the dialogue sparkles with sharpness and wittiness. When you begin to read the stories, you'll immediately notice how funny and inventive the dialogue is. As an example I can mention that the first story starts with a humorous conversation between John Watson and a flower-girl, who's actually a prostitute. In this scene, the author shows what can happen when two persons misinterpret a few things.
'Silver Blaze: Murder Horse' is one of the funniest stories I've read this year. It was fun to read to read about what happens when Warlock Holmes gets a little help from eager demons who want to find a place to call their own in our dimension. Because demons have a tendency to take things literally, one must be careful in asking them to do one's bidding, for the consequences can be somewhat unexpected.
I like G.S. Denning's writing style and his effortless way of creating a satirical vision of detective work and British way of life. It's honestly amazing how well he uses one-liners and clever references to his advantage, because this novel is chock-full of inventiveness and tiny details. It's great that he also writes effortlessly about magic and magical artefacts.
By the way, if you have a yearning for the macabre, you'll be served a special feast of macabre elements by the author, because he has spiced the stories with black humour. I found myself astonished by how fluently the author wrote about macabre elements and how much black humour he added to certain scenes, because most Sherlockian novels lack this kind of humour.
This novel has excellent illustrations that bring certain scenes to life. I like the artwork, because the illustrations are detailed and atmospheric.
I give this novel full five stars on the scale from one to five stars for its brilliant humour. I look forward to embracing the next novel (Warlock Holmes: My Grave Ritual) with open arms, because I can hardly wait to read what kind of twists and turns the author intends to deliver in it. The surprisingly personal ending suggests that the author has quite a lot of surprises in store for his readers.
By the way, if you haven't yet read the first novel, Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone, I recommend doing so immediately, because it's worth reading (trust me, you'll love it). You don't necessarily have to read it in order to understand what's going on in this novel, but it may help to clarify a few things.
Everyone who has ever read Sherlock Holmes stories will find much to love in Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles, but please be warned that if you're purist when it comes to Sherlockian fiction, you may find yourself shocked by the author's uniquely parodical way of approaching the source material. Warlock Holmes: The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles is a brilliantly comic novel that must not be missed by fans of humorous fantasy and mystery fiction, because it's an amazing novel. Other similar kind of novels simply can't compete with it in terms of black humour and inventiveness. I highly recommend it to readers who love humorous stories, because it's awesome entertainment.