ImageWhen I began to read Sherlock’s Demon by Simon Clark, I had no idea my love of Gothic and Sherlock Holmes would collide in such a fantastic way.

Of course, the Gothic and Sherlock are old friends: in 1997 the Post Office released a set of Gothic stamps including an artistic impression of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The iconic book was the third of Doyle’s novels and is often put into the Gothic genre for it’s dealings with the ‘supernatural’ hound and use of Gothic motifs. Then of course there’s The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire: what could be more Gothic than a vampire? Reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s vampire women, Robert Ferguson’s wife has supposedly been sucking the blood of their infant child. It is a disturbing idea, but is soon debunked by the ever-grounded Sherlock Holmes.

Hound Stamp

1997 British Stamp

Sherlock’s Demon on the other hand does nothing to reassure you that the supernatural is the result of misunderstandings. We are introduced to Joseph Hepworth under the influence of ‘Sherlock Holmes’: he is supposedly possessed by the spirit of Great Detective. But far from being an onset of a mental disorder, we are assured from the start there is a supernatural cause. But how, they ask, can Joseph be possessed by the spirit of someone who never lived? Holmes cannot be a ghost if he never existed. Nonetheless, April Hepworth calls in a team of ghost-hunters to try and rid her home and her husband of this spiritual intervention.

I found Sherlock’s Demon to be a fantastic mix of mystery, suspense, upset and comedy. You really feel sorry for April, not knowing what is happening to her husband, and the strange goings on are creepy in the best way. I love that Clark took an unusual stance on Sherlock: he is Doyle’s character, yet personified in a real, modern man, and makes Joseph much more proactive and confident than when he is himself. It is a fantastic testament to the strength of Holmes’ character that Clark can use it in this way. The story itself is not very long, so can be read in an afternoon (which you will want to do because it’s so gripping!)

As a ghost-story Sherlock’s Demon is brilliant and the solution is suitably spine-chilling. The side-plots are a little contrived and it’s not a ‘Sherlock story’, so don’t go in expecting the Great Detective to be the main character. The characterisation of ‘Holmes’ does not go beyond the obvious, but his presence is a point of interest and as a whole the story is very enjoyable.

If you have any recommendations for other other books containing Sherlock (set in modern or Victorian times), please let me know. This will form a huge part of my thesis and I want to read a range.

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