Title: Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London
Authors: Sylvain Cordurié (Author), Laci (Illustrator)
Star Rating: * * *
Genre: Graphic Novel, Mystery, Paranormal
NOTE: Review copy obtained via NetGalley. Publication date is February 11, 2014.
After the events at Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes goes into hiding. By convincing everyone that he is dead, he hopes to avoid any reprisals for his part in Moriarty’s death. However, he finds himself drawn back to London for a case from a very strange client. Individuals linked to the royal house are being brutally killed, and it is not the queen that has sent for him, but a demonic master vampire who needs Holmes to track down a rogue monster. With Watson and his wife being threatened, how can Holmes crack this case without handing over his soul to the proverbial devil?
Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London is a solid graphic novel, though I am not personally all that fond of it. However, even though it was not one of my favourite reads, I can easily see how many others would really enjoy this piece, so I am going to give a brief review that highlights some of the good points of this volume, as well as some of the reasons as to why I wasn’t all that enthused.
The art in this volume is stunning. All of the panels are extremely detailed, and the colouring is beautifully done. My only complaint was that some of the characters had too similar in face structure, and there were times when I was unsure of exactly who I was looking at on a page. However, this was a very minor complaint in a sea of excellence. Laci is a fantastic illustrator, and I will be seeking out some of his/her other work.
The story itself is interesting. Holmes has been “hired” (in other words, compelled into working when Watson and his wife are threatened) to find a rogue vampire. Known to the British powers that be, there is a powerful group of these supernatural beings in Europe, and they were left largely alone until one of them starts killing people close to the queen in very public and brutal ways. This is certainly not Holmes’ usual type of opponent as vampires are not being constrained by the limitations of mortality.
The most significant flaw in this book was Holmes’ lack of detecting. It is not that he doesn’t engage in his usual patterns of deduction, but that this work was often overshadowed by the paranormal aspects of this story. It is a challenge to try and blend the traditional Holmes mysteries with demonic vampires, and I understand why the balance was off. However, I would have preferred to see a piece much more similar in tone to Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald which was a great pastiche that combined the paranormal with one of the world’s most beloved detectives. For Holmes fans, this is probably the part of the book that will bother them the most, though his intellectual manner and abilities are certainly not absent. They just don’t take center stage.
Overall, Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London is an entertaining story utilising characters and tropes that many people enjoy. Just don’t pick it up expecting detecting to be the center of the narrative. It’s also worth a read for the art alone.