A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Published March 1st, 2016
Katherine Tegen Books
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
I rated A Study in Charlotte 5/5 stars.
This review, like all of my reviews, is spoiler-free.
Oh boy. Where do I start with this book? I’ll start with this: it’s amazing.
Jamie Watson and Charlottes Holmes are the descendants of the original detective duo and have the same wit and deductive capabilities as their ancestors. Jamie, a boy on scholarship for his half-hearted rugby skills at Sherringford Prep, encounters the ever-so-enchanting Charlotte, whose penchant for the morbid and creepy is almost as striking as her raven black hair. The stars seemed to align when Jamie and Charlotte met, but not for the better: within days, a Sherringford student turns up dead in his room. And our leading guy and gal are on a suspect list that’s two names long.
I mentioned this book in Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House for it’s wit (I also mentioned how gorgeous the cover is in my post on my favorite book covers), which is this book’s most notable feature. Jamie’s charming, dry look at life was captivating. He’s thrust into a place that feels entirely foreign, but he approaches it with an uncharacteristic willingness. He’s such a sport about dealing with the familial tensions created by moving to Sherringford as well as the whole Charlotte Holmes situation–she’s not exactly a walk in the park. Overall, Jamie was a likable character, an easily supported protagonist, and what felt like a reliable narrator. He looked at life with a certain clarity that comes with being mature beyond your years.
Charlotte had a similar maturity, but she was chaotic where Jamie was methodical. I think Charlotte is best represented by the way Jamie describes the jar of teeth found in her lab: odd, extremely concerning, probably hazardous, but mesmerizing all the same. Charlotte was a hurricane of sharp cracks of wit and superhuman deductive power. She was a force of nature, but her destructive tendencies applied to herself as well. She was just as flawed as the rest of us, even though she could deduce blood type without sticking a vein.
One of my favorite aspects about the book was that it was laden with just enough clues to make you, the reader, feel like a detective yourself. Charlotte’s philosophy throughout the entire book was to not theorize before you’ve collected all the facts. This methodical acquisition of facts, which we learned about as Jamie and Charlotte discovered them, gave me the chance to start putting theories together myself: maybe it was Mustard in the hall with the knife… or Violet with the dumbbell in the theater… or Green with the pistol in the observatory. With the way Cavallaro wrote about their investigation, I felt like I was playing a game of Clue, using strategy to deduce whodunnit.
The setting was equally as fabulous. I went to a private high school (and am going to a private college, which I’m moving into today!) so the formal yet quirky atmosphere that accompanies academia has a special place in my heart. Sherringford Prep, where our two protagonists attend class (well, they ended up skipping a lot), was a prestigious institution in the rolling hills of Connecticut known for educating the sons and daughters of the high and mighty, but I found that the school itself was a bit like Charlotte. The exterior was pristine, the facade was glimmering and well-built, but the school ran rampant with corruption and nasty habits. There were drugs and violence and underground gambling, all showing that exteriors and interiors rarely match.
My one complaint is… well, I don’t really have a complaint. I thought long and hard about something that I’d perhaps want to change, but I truthfully cannot conjure up an idea in the slightest. Overall, this book was as pristine as Sherringford’s campus appeared to be. The characters were dynamic and interesting, the dialogue was fresh and packed with cracking wit charm, and the book as a whole was like reading one of the classic Sherlock novels with which we all fell in love.
Have you read A Study in Charlotte? What did you think?
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