The Angel of the Crows, an Urban Fantasy Take on Sherlock
I’m not normally a fan of urban fantasy, or fantasy in general, but if you put Sherlock Holmes in it, turns out I can’t read it quickly enough. Not that we ever see that character name, or Watson, here. Instead, it’s a personality resemblance and twists on familiar cases in a world with magic and vampires and angels.
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison is set in a Victorian world where three kinds of angels exist: those protecting public locations, whether cathedral or hospital or Whitehall; those who are Fallen, monsters to be feared; and the Nameless, those without location or purpose or title.
And then there’s Crow. As Crow manages to live in a flat, no one is quite sure what to make of the being. Crow is bound to no dominion and transcends the categories. The role is still that of consulting detective, asked in by Inspector Lestrade, though. There’s just a more supernatural explanation for Crow not understanding a lot about how people work emotionally and not sleeping or eating.
Dr. J.H. Doyle has been invalided home from Afghanistan in the late 1800s after being wounded by a Fallen. The doctor, with his own secrets, winds up sharing a flat with Crow and tagging along on cases. There are a number of famous stories rewritten and included in this book, interwoven with the search for Jack the Ripper. They include A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, “The Speckled Band”, “The Copper Beeches”, “The Yellow Face”, and others. All are given their own twists by inclusion of the supernatural characters.
I’m not a fan of wingfic, particularly, and you can see the obvious starting point there, but I found this to be more. I am left wondering, though, why it wasn’t called The Angel of London, as that’s how Crow titles itself. And I did sometimes miss the use of the name “Sherlock”. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)