Sherlock Holmes & The Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove – A Book Review



In London’s East End, an outbreak of insanity sees ordinary men and women reduced to gibbering wrecks, and a mysterious creeping fog hides terrifying apparitions within it. Sherlock Holmes deduces a connection between these sinister “shadows” and an Oriental drug lord. Yet there are even more sinister forces at work, as the great detective faces a challenge so fearsome and deadly that his career may be over almost as soon as it has begun.


Author: James Lovegrove

Publisher: Titan Books

Release Date: 15/11/2016

Page Count: 448

Series: The Cthulhu Casebooks #1

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘Sherlock Holmes & The Shadwell Shadows’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



I have and always will be a massive Sherlock Holmes fan and, sadly, I do and always will think that H.P Lovecraft had about as much talent as a block of wood. The man had wonderful ideas, ideas far ahead of his time. Sadly, he just possessed a writing style so dreadfully boring that his ideas were destined never to be done justice by his pen. So, when seeing a Sherlock novel/series featuring the ideas of Lovecraft I hopped onto it. My reasoning being that I loved Sherlock and the Christmas Demon and fully expected a talented writer would be able to give Lovecraft’s ideas the treatment they deserved.

The basis of this trilogy is that most everything we thought we knew about Dr Watson’s works based on Sherlock’s cases are lies. This series shows how major characters were ‘really’ introduced. After all, he couldn’t very well tell the public about the cosmic horrors lurking in and around their great nation, could he?

The book itself starts off with a foreword by the author (which is worth reading as it adds to the story in its own little way) and a bit from Dr Watson himself as he sits down in his old age to recount the tales he thought he would be taking to his grave. The parts where Dr Watson is an old man are charming in their own way and add a nice little dimension onto the novel.

The Shadwell Shadows shows us a very different set of circumstances that led to Dr Watson’s origin in the army and his subsequent return home. It also shows us a different meeting between he and Sherlock (not to mention many other major players in the Sherlock universe). Said major players being involved really add to the world Lovegrove is creating and make it feel like a Conan-Doyle novel due to their presence. Even though certain characters like Mrs Hudson and Lestrade are not huge parts of the novel. Simply their being there just adds layers that need to be there.

It starts off very Conan-Doyle-esque and takes a little while to stray from good old-fashioned Sherlock into full on Lovecraft Cosmic Horror. I’ll admit that when it does go full cosmic horror, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief at times. I am used to Sherlock looking down at a man who believes in ghosts as though he was a simpleton. To have the great consulting detective readily leap into the murky waters of the supernatural and accept it as readily as their air he breathes was a bit strange for me. It is why having those underlying characters adding those Doyle-esque layers helps so much. As a reader it kind of helped to anchor me in the Holmes universe. Otherwise it might have been easy to stray away and think I was reading something entirely different.

Lovecraft’s pacing is just what you’d expect from a Holmes novel and Dr Watson is written just as fans of Conan Doyle’s original classics would remember. As I mentioned above, the cosmic horror aspect of it did make it hard to suspend my disbelief at times but, overall, I really enjoyed this book and I will be carrying on with the others at some point. The way it ended had me curious about how things would pan out going forward so I’m looking forward to discovering what comes next.

I will say, however, that if you love Holmes but are not a fan of cosmic horror or the supernatural in general, this probably isn’t the book for you as there is very little traditional Holmes in this as far as case subject matter goes. Otherwise, those with a more open mind will find this a nice little jaunt through a world they loved … and then a strange trip through a world they never knew existed.

9 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes & The Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove – A Book Review

      1. No no, that’s the Gaiman comic I reviewed recently 😀 Holmes in a world ruled by Elder Gods. Even more outlandish, but for me it tracked splendidly 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This one is the best of both worlds (I know that for you that doesn’t say much 😜), and since you are already aware of the existence of this quirky pocket universe where Holmes and Lovecraftian horror uneasily coexist, you might enjoy it more 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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