Tag Archives: Victorian England

Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes

29 Jan

This book, the fourth anthology volume of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes stories, is simply delicious.

The standard of the stories is very high. Usually in every anthology you get at least one story that falls flat. It’s a tribute to the joint editing skills of J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec  that every story is a winner.

“Gaslight Gothic” combines the fog shrouded mysteries of Sherlock Holmes with the sort of plots that the likes of M. R. James and William Hope Hodgson excelled at.

As I said, every story is a winner, but three really stood out for me:

The Cuckoo’s Hour, by Mark A. Latham
The Strange Case of Dr Sacker and Mr Hope, by James Lovegrove
The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder, by Nancy Holder.

All three stories were creepy to an extremely high level.

“Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes” now has a place in my permanent Sherlock Holmes collection, alongside my editions of the canon and one or two others.

Highly recommended.

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A Study in Lavender

25 Feb

“A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes”, edited by Joseph R. G. DeMarco, is one of the best volumes of Sherlock Holmes short stories I have read in a long time.

The stories all have an interesting take on the world of Sherlock Holmes.  Every story has a gay component to it.  Sometimes it is Holmes who is gay, sometimes it is the client, or the victim, and in one story, Lestrade.

I found the stories all to be interesting and insightful into life for men who were criminals merely for the fact they existed, whether or not they acted upon their sexual orientation.

It is rare for me to find an anthology where I loved all the stories.  Usually there is a mix of good, bad, and mediocre.  “A Study in Lavender”, however, contained stories that were pretty much all good.  The ending of the final story in the book tended towards being a little on the mediocre side, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book.

The truly outstanding story, however, is “The Well-Educated Young Man” by William P. Copeland.  This story spelled out how truly dangerous and horrific life was for gay men in the Victorian era.  The story is so well written and readable that it was whilst reading it that I knew this volume would be added to my Sherlock Holmes collection, not passed on, as I do so many others.

There are no actual sex scenes, so don’t be afraid to reach out for the book.  You may learn something as well as be entertained by some brilliantly written stories.

Highly recommended.

The Hanged Man

27 Sep

“The Hanged Man” is a fantastic new novel by P. N. Elrod, the start of a new series: “Her Majesty’s Psychic Service”.

Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury, named for her godmother, Queen Victoria, works for Her Majesty’s Psychic Service.  Mostly Alex works with Scotland Yard as a Forensic Reader, but when a close family member is murdered, Alex finds herself confronting terror and treason at every turn.

Set in a Victorian England where Victoria married an English peer, not a German prince, and where women got both the vote and equal rights in 1859, “The Hanged Man” is best described as historical urban fantasy with steampunk overtones.

The book is a joy to read from start to finish.  The characters are well rounded and delightful.  I am hoping future books will have more of Alex’s cousin James, and his doctor friend Hamish, whose first name actually appears to be John…  We didn’t learn his surname, but I’m pretty much betting it happens to be Watson.

A well plotted and fun read.

Highly recommended.

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