March 3, 2016 • Cee • Reviews

A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro • March 1, 2016 • Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
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The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John 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 enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.


I received this book for free from HarperCollins for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “The first time I met her was at the tail end of one of those endless weekday nights you could only have at school like Sherringford.”

What does A Study in Charlotte have that most YA Sherlock retellings don’t have? Well, lots of references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Charlotte Holmes and James Watson as real descendants of their ancestral namesake, and so much more you know you wanna find out.

Despite being descendants of their namesake counterparts who you’d think would personally know each other, James Watson and Charlotte Holmes are strangers, but it’s not until James is shipped off to Sherringford, a Connecticut boarding school, from London that he meets the illustrious detective Charlotte, the object of his fascination. There, these two teenagers will band together to clear their names when they become the prime suspects of a student’s murder.

Holmes and Watson are together again. What kind of crazy mischief do they get themselves into?


  • There are a lot of references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are referenced many times in A Study in Charlotte, and Brittany Cavallaro certainly knows her stuff. You can tell how much she loves the stories by how she weaves them into her story—referencing the short stories like The Adventure of the Speckled Band and the Adventure of the Blue Carbunkle and having her characters take on characteristics of the infamous detective duo.

  • In this world, Charlotte Holmes and James Watson are descendants of the infamous Sherlock Holmes and John Watson!

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson aren’t fictional creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Rather, they’re people who actually lived centuries ago, and Charlotte and James happen to be their great-great-grandchildren! What a fabulous recreation!

Not only are they descendants, but the pair are reminiscent of their great-great-grandfathers, which isn’t terrible but their characterization relies heavily dependent on them. It’s hard to distinguish what traits are entirely Charlotte and James’s, and not their great-great-grandfathers.

  • You get to see a female Sherlock Holmes in action.

It’s not every day you get a female Sherlock Holmes, and she is very much like Sherlock Holmes. She’s brilliant, but distant. She has all the skills of her great-great-grandfather like her analytical and deductive skills, and she has similar temperament and vices, which some people may or may not like. I find her very fascinating, especially her past and how she got to where she is, but most of the time, I couldn’t connect with her since she didn’t feel like her very own person. Sherlock Holmes shrouds this Charlotte, so it’s hard to feel attached to her.

  • You’ll relate with James Watson’s fascination with Charlotte Holmes.

We’ve all had that one person we’ve been fascinated with our whole life—that popular girl/boy at school we wished to be friends with or that celebrity we idolize. That person for James Watson is Charlotte Holmes. All his life James dreamt about becoming the Watson to Charlotte’s Holmes. And when he meets her? Well, he does what most people do at meeting someone they —he freaks out internally and wonders how they can be friends. Honestly, who wouldn’t be fascinated by a Holmes?

At times though, I felt uncomfortable by James’s fascination with Charlotte because it gave me stalker vibes. How he approached things and reacted when it came to Charlotte was a bit too much.

  • You get to see how Charlotte Holmes and James Watson’s relationship blossom into a partnership.

Much like their ancestral counterparts, Charlotte and James have their ups and downs. They start out not liking each other (well, only for Charlotte), but they soon grew to rely on each other, especially when they’re accused of terrible crimes they didn’t commit. They start investigating to prove their innocence, and you get that familiar Holmes/Watson partnership you’re used to seeing.

However, I felt their friendship went from acquaintances to “best friends forever” to perhaps something more a bit too quickly for my liking. Who knows, maybe life-threatening situations does that? Make strangers into best friends in just a few days? (I don’t know about that.)

  • You’ll see various Sherlock-related characters.

Not only is there characters who are reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, there are characters like Milo Holmes (kind of similar to Mycroft Holmes but not really) and others that I don’t want to name because surprise!

  • The mystery will either keep you enthralled or bore you.

The mystery was—how should I say—interesting? You’d think murders copying the Arthur Conan Doyle stories would be enthralling, but it wasn’t the best it could be. It lacked a good exploration and resolution. Somewhere along the way, it fell apart at the seams like someone hadn’t sewn the thread of the mystery very neatly so that when it unraveled, you’re left with this giant information dump that was almost like the ridiculous plot of a soap opera.

  • You’re a Sherlock Holmes and John Watson fan.

Well, are you?

Trigger warning: Sexual assault, drugs, addiction, bomb explosions, murder.

Do I recommend A Study in CharlotteSure. If you’re a Sherlock and Watson fan, and want to see how Brittany Cavallaro honors them. It’s a good adaptation, but it’s far from perfect, especially with the lack of originality in the characters and the lack of complexity in the mystery. Despite the issues, A Study in Charlotte made me love a character I never really liked in the past, and it makes a past for interesting to happen. This book is a good starter to the trilogy.


4 Responses to “(ARC) REVIEW | The Holmes to My Watson (A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro)”

  1. I really enjoyed this one too! I loved that Sherlock was a gal this time around and that the original books were referenced. I’m so glad you liked it and I’m with you- can’t wait to see where it all goes.

  2. I really want to read this even if I’m not the BIGGEST Sherlock fan…. I like Hound of the Baskervilles, but that was about it. I like the idea of a female Holmes who is not very likable. Plus LOVE the cover :)

  3. Great review and I love the format you did this in — it made it fun to read and helpful even for those of us that haven’t read this yet!

  4. Alexa S. says:

    It honestly took me a while to get into A Study in Charlotte BUT once I got into it, I really thought it was interesting! I definitely think it was a smart, unique YA novel inspired by Sherlock Holmes ;)

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