Book Review: Warlock Holmes: My Grave Ritual by G. S. Denning
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of Warlock Holmes
Publisher: Titan Books (May 15, 2018)
Length: 425 pages
It’s a little ridiculous how much I’m loving this series. Despite the mountain of books in my TBR waiting to be read, I picked this one up as soon as it arrived on my doorstep because you know you’re always guaranteed a fun time with a Warlock Holmes book. While My Grave Ritual might have been a little bit less cohesive and a bit more meandering compared to the two previous volumes, I was happy to see that once again it did not disappoint in bringing the humor and hellfire.
Like the previous novels, My Grave Ritual plays on the original Sherlock Holmes tales and is presented as a narrative made up of a sequence of skit-like shorts featuring our protagonists Warlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson. But of course, those of us who have been following the series so far know that the real brain behind the operation is Watson. The so-called great detective here, Warlock, is in fact a bumbling idiot. Sure, he may possess the fearsome ability to commune with demons and wield untold powers of the arcane, but without Watson keeping an eye on him, Warlock couldn’t be counted on not to set fire to his own shoes. That said, to his credit, Warlock Holmes is something of an expert in the cryptic and occult. While the man can be exasperating, Watson can’t deny that by pooling their skills and resources, the two of them make a rather formidable team.
This time, Holmes and Watson find themselves embroiled in more adventures involving the paranormal and uncanny, including a disastrous Christmas dinner with a magical goose and a run-in with a betentacled eldritch messenger from Bohemia. Not to mention, of course, the trouble that still plagues their lives in the form of Moriarty, Holmes’ greatest nemesis who is waiting patiently in the shadows for the perfect time to strike.
Despite the short story format of these books, all the tales here are interconnected and come together to form a greater narrative. In this manner, G.S. Denning continues to develop the overall series arc for Warlock Holmes and Watson, expanding upon the characters’ lives and their unique setting. As I have alluded to before, however, things felt a little more disjointed this time around, perhaps due to the shorter length of the stories in this installment. As a result, I felt that this book lacked the focus of the two previous volumes, with a plot that bounced around a bit too much. Clearly, the story is starting to build towards a major confrontation with Moriarty, but there’s still a lot of groundwork to cover in the meantime. The series is still in the process of bringing many of the elements from the original source, putting a new and magical spin on them at the same time.
As always though, my favorite thing about these books is the humor, especially the witty laugh-out-loud banter between Watson and Holmes. These are wonderful characters, and the author has done a great job making them his own by offering a fresh and fun perspective on this classic duo. I also liked how Warlock got to play a bigger role in this book, and there were even a couple sections of the story from his point of view. Don’t get me wrong, while I still think it’s hilarious that Holmes is a depicted as an eccentric and incompetent buffoon, it was a bit refreshing to see him become a stabilizing force for Watson for a change, instead of it constantly being the other way around. In essence, I’ve been given exactly what I wanted—more developments in the two men’s friendship and seeing their characters interact with each other in more meaningful and interesting ways.
In sum, I’m loving these books, and despite the somewhat rambling nature of this one, I still think the series as a whole is progressing in the right direction. Warlock Holmes has become my go-to for some light and fluffy fun because I know these characters will never let me down when I want a good laugh. I really hope this trend will continue for the next installment and beyond, because I just can’t wait to read more.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of A Study in Brimstone (Book 1)
Review of The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles (Book 2)