Rummanah Aasi
  I have always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I love his idiosyncrasies and his use of the scientific method to solve mysteries and crimes. I do not, however, like how pompous, patronizing, and misogynistic he can often be. I don't know if that is how Doyle perceived him to be or if Sherlock is simply a product of the Victorian Ages. I recently discovered a series where an American girl of 15 named Mary Russell becomes Sherlock Holmes' apprentice and together they solve crimes. Well, needless to say I was intrigued and just finished the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice,  in what is currently a 10 book series. I really enjoyed this book.

Description: In the early years of World War I, Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her strict, guardian aunt, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford. The real collaboration and true partnership really comes to fruition when the kidnapping in the daughter of an American senator takes place in Wales. The sleuthing duo find signs of the hand of a master criminal, and after Russell rescues the child, attempts are made on their lives. The more Mary and Sherlock investigate their death attempts, it soon becomes clear that there is a  master criminal who is out to get Holmes and all that he holds dear.

Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice is not a Sherlock Holmes book. King makes no attempts to change the famous detective or other main characters in Doyle's classic series. King does however remain true the personalities of Holmes, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson that were in the original series. I immediately felt that I was reading about the originals in a different setting. Holmes is just as withdrawn, subtle, witty, and intelligent as he always been. I was able to see him in a different light, he is much more human, which brought out by his close relationship with Mary. He is extremely likeable. I can't wait to see how his character changes in the series.
   Another great thing about this book is the strong female protagonist, Mary Russell. She is extremely intelligent, witty, has insecurities, and a dark past. It was refreshing to watch her grow (the book is told in her perspective) and see how she at times outsmart Holmes and stands up to him. She proves to Holmes that she is very much capable of being his partner instead of being a passive aid like Watson. Holmes is constantly trying to go around the subject that Mary is female. It was interesting to note how he is sometimes surprised by her femininity. I also loved Mary and Holme's relationship. Mary sees Holmes as her substitute father, mentor, and best friend. Holmes sees her as a person who is equally intelligent to him, which he finds extremely fascinating.
  I only had a small problem with the book, which is why I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5. The pacing of the story and the main case kind of lags in the middle. There is a section where Holmes and Mary go to Jerusalem, which doesn't really add to the story. I look forward to reading more adventures with Mary and Sherlock. Hope you do too.


Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are drug references, mostly due to Sherlock history of taking opium and other drugs. There is also mild language in the book. I would easily recommend this title to YA readers who love Sherlock Holmes. It's also a great adult book too.

If you like this book try: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie  by Alan Bradley or The Monstrous Regiment of Women (Book 2 of the Mary Russell series) by Laurie King or Another Scandal in Bohemia by Carole Nelson Douglas
2 Responses
  1. Melissa Says:

    It does kind of lag in the middle, doesn't it? But, like you, I had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the story. I'll be curious to see what you think about the others.


  2. It does. I just really liked the characters and how well they interacted with one another, which is really what kept me reading. I also found out there's an Irene Adler series with Sherlock Holmes too. Have you read them? Would love to know your opinion.


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