Source: Curiosity Quills – I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Series: Elementary, My Dear Watson #1
Edition: eARC, 174 Pages
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery/Adventure
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
When 12-year-old John Watson is sent to Candlewood boarding school, he makes quick friends with a boy named Sherlock Holmes, a universally disliked know-it-all and amateur sleuth. Before long, Sherlock embroils his new friend in a covert investigation of the mysterious disappearances blamed on a vengeful ghost. Dodging the meaty fists of the bully Moriarty, and aided by bumbling patrolman Lestrade, they uncover a deadly secret hidden deep underneath Candlewood. But does the duo have the brains–and the brawn–to crack this dangerous case?
The Astounding Adventure of the Ancient Dragon combined many of the things I enjoy about Middle grade fiction with some elements usually reserved for older mysteries. The resulting tale is full of adventure, action, snark, and fun.
As you can tell this is a sort of re-telling of Sherlock Holmes, but instead of an adult we are given a 12 year old version who attends a prestigous boarding school called Candlewood. Imagine if you will Hogwarts, minus the magic but replace Ron and Harry with Sherlock and Watson; now you have this book. In fact even without the fantasy element I think it would really safe to assume fans of HP would actually enjoy this as many of the elements are similar without feeling recycled.
Sherlock has an insatiable curiosity and doesn’t sense when something is over his head, so of course he lands them smack in the middle of a much more dangerous mystery than either of the boys bargained for.I personally love how unlikely Sherlock and Watson’s friendship seems to be, and how it’s because of that odd connection they have a great bond. They balance each other out. I will admit I did end up picturing a tiny Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (or Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) running through the dark halls of Candlewood, but I think it would be impossible not to. I loved seeing how the other bigger roles in the Sherlock tales were handled as well. Lestrade being the police chief, and Sherlock feigning reverence. Moriarty with his cockney accent and utter zeal at getting revenge on Sherlock, who always manages to make him look like a fool.
The story itself is fairly fast paced and easy to get through in a few sittings. Once Sherlock hones in on something suspicious he follows after it with unyielding attention giving us a slow build to an action packed second half of the book. I adored the setting of course, since having a boarding school filled with kids is always a good way to get some action started while having a really amazing atmosphere. The action scenes were also pretty incredible and I’m actually fairly glad that Sherlock maintains his fighting ability and quick eye for troubling situations, even though it did shock me to see just how much fighting he had to do. Of course it’s not all action scenes and sleuthing, there is also a great amount of heart involved. Watson home life is in shambles and the distraction that Sherlock brings is welcome, and through it all they become very close. I also loved seeing how other kids around them who were standoff-ish in the beginning (thanks to Sherlock’s lack of social skills) slowly began to warm up to him.
Overall I found The Astounding Adventure of the Ancient Dragon to be a very solid start to a series. It helped remind me why Middle Grade is so much fun to read, even for someone who is almost twenty four.This is certainly one of my favorite reads of the yer and I can’t wait to read the second book when it is released.