Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

Transmutation

17 Jan

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When one thinks of  transmutation, alchemists turning lead into gold is the natural first example that comes to mind. Rumpelstiltskin is a classic fairy tale that involves the transmutation of straw into gold. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Island of Dr. Moreau are all 19th century novels that look into human transmutation. The results are always disastrous.

In The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter,  by Theodora Goss, we see a transmutation of a different sort. Goss has transmuted these stories, plus the less well-known Rappaccini’s Daughter, into a wonderful tale that also involves the greatest detective of the time: Sherlock Holmes. The result is a delight to read.

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Publisher’s Summary: Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

Happy birthday, Sherlock Holmes

6 Jan

I discovered Sherlock Holmes around grade 8 and become something of a fanatic. I watched all the old 20th Century Fox movies featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

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When I think of Sherlock and Watson, theirs are the faces I see.

I believe my first real encounter was reading a dramatic version of The Red Headed League  in our 6th grade reading textbook. Then, maybe in the summer after grade 7, I chose The Hounds of the Baskervilles as my summer reading program prize at the public library. Sometime in 8th grade, I got my own copy of one of the story collections that had the famous Sidney Paget illustrations.

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I became a fan. I could quote passages of text well enough that, when I sat down to read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, a very popular book in 1980,

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I recognized that certain passages seem lifted right from Holmes stories and decried it to all who would listen. There were not many. In high school, the quirky teen that I was wrote a biography of Holmes for an English class. I can still tell you that Holmes, who was rather a good musician, wrote a  monograph entitle The Polyphonic Motets of Lassus.

Holmes has been an inspiration to many authors for young people and continues to be so. here are some recent entries into Holmesian inspired literature for young people.

images-1 The Every series by Ellie Marney

Unknown-2 Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty

Unknown-3 The  Enola Holmes  series by Nancy Springer

images-2 The Young Sherlock Holmes  series by Andrew Lane

Even Disney has been inspired by Sherlock Holmes and released The Great Mouse Detective in 1999. It has the special distinction of also including a basset hound!

 

EVERY WORD Blog Tour

18 Nov

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Today, I am one of several bloggers taking part in Ellie Marney’s North American blog tour, celebrating her latest novel, Every Word.

Every Word

This is the second book in a series, by Australian Ellie Marney,  that riffs on Sherlock Holmes and follows James Mycroft and Rachel Watts as they travel (separately) to London to investigate the theft and readers learn about Mycroft’s tortured background.

Publisher’s Summary:James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents … without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his ‘partner in crime’.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…. Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events – or will she lose him forever?

Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.

Every Word is intelligent reading and even better than the first book. Mycroft and Watts fit the Holmesian models of complicated and brilliant sleuth with a loyal and logical partner. There is some romance between the two, but the mystery is definitely front and center.

Both books are told from Rachel’s point of view. She is a tough, down to earth character, who begins competing in roller derby in this second book. Just as Watson grounds Holmes, Rachel grounds Mycroft. She knows he is a flawed boyfriend, but is willing to make the effort.

“I’ve nursed sick animals before, and sometimes they just give up. Their eyes fill with this helpless lethargy, and there’s not a lot you can do after that. Now I’m filled with the same awful feeling — that whatever’s broken inside Mycroft might well be beyond my ability to fix. “

The first book, Every Breath,  was enjoyable because of its Australian setting and the publisher’s decision to keep the language authentically so. Every Word, set in London feels equally as authentic and the pace of the story is right on, making it tempting to read the book in a single sitting.

Although I recommend reading Every Breath  before Every Word, you could conceivably read them out of order. This pair of mysteries would be excellent holiday gifts for a young adult reader who loves mysteries.

Every Breath Every Word

The game’s afoot

16 Oct

Last night, OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) held a free open house event for teachers to let them preview their new Sherlock Holmes exhibit.  I was in total geek heaven. I was obsessed with Holmes and read all his books in grade 8. I can still quote him.  here’s my favorite:  “When you have eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”   

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The exhibit begins with an introduction to Sir  Arthur Conan Doyle, his medical training and the doctors and literature that inspired him to create Sherlock Holmes. And then the sleuthing begins.

The next room introduces you to the world of Victorian England and detective work at the time. All of this builds background knowledge that you can apply at the next stage. A crime has been committed and you use technology of the time to solve it. Along the way you have a detectives notebook where you can record cues and other information by way of passport punches and rubbings.

As fun as this was, I think it is a little beyond many of the 4th graders I teach. It was a room full of adults having a great time. My sister & her family (husband & 15-year-old daughter) are coming for Christmas and I think I have found a fun way for us to pass part of the holiday.

So go get your deerstalker cap. The game’s afoot!

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Randy Ribay

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