Book Review: Warlock Holmes: The Finality Problem 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: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 5 of Warlock Holmes
Publisher: Titan Books (August 5, 2020)
Length: 400 pages
Until I read this, I didn’t realize how much I needed the laugh. Also considering The Finality Problem is the fifth book in the Warlock Holmes series, I was pleased to find this was one of the funniest and most entertaining installments yet!
Picking up from the end of the previous book, The Finality Problem begins with an agitated John Watson feeling quite lost and cast adrift following his ban from 221B Baker Street, which Warlock Holmes had enacted for his partner’s own safety. Furthermore, the wizard had taken an extra step and soul-bound Watson to a wealthy wife he cannot stand, in the hopes that his new domestic duties would keep him out of trouble, but that plan soon proved to be unsuccessful. Now that his eyes have been opened to the magical world, nothing can keep Watson from seeking out his own supernatural cases to solve. After all, in this humorous retelling by G.S. Denning, it is Watson who is the real brains behind the operation while Holmes is a dopey but well-meaning demonologist detective who often stumbles into his successes by accident.
Still, what is Holmes without Watson, and Watson without Holmes? The two of them need each other, and despite his partner’s insistence on keeping him away, Watson is determined to prove to he is not afraid of a bit of danger. No sooner had the duo reunited for their next adventure, however, than that conviction is about to be tested. As always, the shadow of Moriarty looms over our characters, which may or may not have something to do with the unleashing of a great terrible evil, heralding the coming of a demon apocalypse.
Once again, it was a joy to return to this uproariously funny series which reimagines Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters with a unique and magical twist. Besides the first book, because nothing can beat the original, this might be my favorite one so far. I continue to delight in how Denning has remained true to the source material while still adding plenty of new and original ideas to make this world his own. The version of Holmes and Watson seen here may have a completely different dynamic, but they nonetheless share a bond that is rich and genuine, a point that still comes through despite the series’ lighter, tongue-in-cheek tones. It’s also tempting to underestimate Warlock or write him off to be a complete nitwit, but his protectiveness of Watson in this book reveals a depth of character that’s easy to miss unless you dig deeper.
I also think the fact that the storyline is so strong despite the two main characters spending so much time apart is a testament to how far this series has come. Like the other novels, The Finality Problem is written from Watson’s point-of-view and is structured in a way that ties together a sequence of mini-vignettes containing their own mystery in order to make a whole. However, there’s also an all-encompassing series arc that I believe is only working as well as it is right now because of how invested readers have been made to feel towards the characters. Both Warlock and Watson have strong motivations and individual goals that help keep the overall narrative interesting even when they are not working a case together.
Another pleasant surprise was that the humor has not subsided a single bit. More than once I found myself laughing out loud at many of the clever jokes, and it’s good to see that Denning’s wit and sense of timing has only grown sharper over time. Since the comedy and entertainment value is one of the main reasons I keep returning to this series, I’m so glad to see this aspect remain strong. It’s nice that I can always count on the hilarity of a Warlock Holmes book to brighten up my day, or to help lift me out of a reading slump.
Once again, I just can’t praise these books enough and feel as a whole that this series is severely underrated and deserves more attention. I always finish each volume wishing it didn’t have to end so soon and praying that it won’t be the last, so here’s hoping the author will continue writing more Warlock Holmes adventures.