Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz review!

This is my tenth review for the BBC! :)

I have been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes series for a while now, both the original short stories and the spin-offs the current favourite being the modernised BBC show, Sherlock. So ever since I heard about this book, and that it was the only Sherlock Holmes story that had been approved by the Conan Doyle estate, I knew that my mind would not rest until I did read it. So here is the review, I hope you enjoy it.

This is what the front cover of the book looks like:

Now personally I think that this is a great front cover for a Sherlock Holmes story: Not too complicated, and full of compelling colours and plenty of charisma and mystery. The colours are perfect too, and they correspond very well. Also the touch of blood on the left hand side, actually (and without giving too much away) does represent to some extent, what goes on inside the book. So all in all a great cover.

Holmes was found dead in his home a year ago. So Watson, now elderly and alone, sets out to write an account of one of their early adventures together. But why has it not been published 'till now? Because it is an account so monstrous and shocking he has sent it to his solicitors asking that it not to be opened until a 100 years have passed, in the hope that readers today will be able to deal with the corruption that the case entails better than the readers of his time. He is not wrong on one thing, this case is like no other that we have ever seen Holmes solve. And that this really is 'a perspective that has not been seen before' of the man himself...

The year is 1890. All is what readers of Holmes could class as normal in 221B. Things start off with a case that seems fairly simple, an art dealer, Mr Edmund Carstairs, is being followed by a man he has not a pleasant history with. He needs Holmes' and Watson's help. But of course not all is as it seems. After all Sherlock Holmes is involved.

What seems like a intriguing case soon turns into burglary, then to murder. Before we  know what is happening, one case suddenly intertwines into two. They have entered a web of deceit, lies, blackmail, and crimes of the most sickening kind. They must find the House of Silk. And when they do, nothing will ever be the same again.

This is different from any Sherlock Holmes story I have ever read. Of course all the cast make a regular appearance (including a very welcomed one from Wiggins and the Baker Street irregulars.) Not forgetting Mrs Hudson, Lestrade, Mycroft and even Watson's poor wife Mary (it is a early adventure.) But it is not that I am speaking of, it is the fact that it probably deals with one of the most disgusting crimes that I could ever have imagined in a Holmes novel. I am not going into details but I was quite shocked when I read it. It didn't dampen my opinion on the story, but it did surprise me and it does, in my opinion, really ups the age rating on this book, which I feel is disappointing for the younger Holmes fans.

The only other negative view I have on this book is that you can tell that it wasn't written by Arthur Conan Doyle, which I know sounds stupid as it isn't written by him in the first place, but I do believe that if you are writing about a character from which grew from a mind of another author and that that character is as iconic as Sherlock Holmes and that that book isn't modernised or the settings or characters haven't have supposed to have changed in any way, that you could at least try write in the same way. Not that Horowitz doesn't fully disappoint, there are a lot of similarities between the writing in this book and Doyle's, but I just felt that this book moved strangely, too quickly, even. Compared to the Holmes stories written by Doyle. You may think that I am being a little picky with this but I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and perhaps I expected a little too much, but there you go.

Not that this book was absolutely terrible. It was actually really impressive. The way he wrote as Watson was superb. You could really believe that an elderly Watson was sharing with us one final Holmes adventure. He didn't disappoint in his portrayal of Holmes either, the detective is still as stubborn and genius as ever, which I absolutely loved.
Also the way Horowitz wrote the relationship between Holmes and Watson was brilliant. He really seemed to understand the bond that the two shared. I adored that, it really did make me believe that Horowitz was a fan and I respected him as a writer an awful lot more after reading this book, however many flaws it may have. 

The little nods to past Holmes stories were fabulous, too. Some are quite small, but when you find them, you'll smile, exactly as I did.

Horowitz also produced a very great mystery, it kept me guessing until the very last page and it still managed to fool me! It is very clear that he understands and cares for all characters, and that he really did admire the work of Sherlock Holmes. It is a great skill to have for a mystery writer and Horowitz will always be one of my favourite mystery writers. It really is a great tribute to the Homes franchise and a fantastic novel to boot.

The game is definitely afoot again.

I would recommend this to all fans of Sherlock Holmes, though not to all ages (see what I mentioned above) so I would give this a age rating of mature readers or 14+. I would also personally rate it as 7/10. A great tribute to the detective and his Boswell that we all love.

Thanks for reading!
W-O-W xoxoxo
Sorry if there are any grammar mistakes, bad spelling e.c.t. Please let me know in a comment so I can fix it! and comments & follows are hugs<3 This is all my opinion. Please no negative comments because of my opinion expressed in these reviews. Thankyou! xoxoxo


  1. Great review. Now I have to admit that while i'm familiar with Sherlock Holmes i#ve never actually read any of the original books(I know, shock! Horror)would it be ok to start with this one or should I really go back to the original books? What would you recommend to a Holmes newbie?

    1. Hi Caroline, thankyou for commenting! :)
      You should be fine reading this book first,howeverthere are lots of references to the original booksthatyou may not understand as well if you haven't read the originals first, thats all. Personally I would advise you to read the original stories first, as it would give you a greater understanding of the characters e.c.t. and would just make reading The House of Silk even more enjoyable.
      I hope this helps and that you enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories, whichever ones you read!
      All the best,
      W-O-W xoxo

  2. Hi

    This seems like an interesting book though the nature of the crime (as hinted by) makes me just a little wary of picking it up. Right now I am off grusome crimes or gross descriptions.

    Thanks a lot for following my blog. (I was away so could not thank you earlier). I am following your blog now and hope to read many more interesting reviews.

  3. Like you I am also a fan of the original stories. I love Arthur Conan Doyle's writing story. I enjoyed the House of Silk, not because it was the same, but because I enjoyed revisiting the characters and I do have to hand it to AH because I think he did a good job. My criticisms were similar to yours. I don't think that this would ever have been a subject tackled by ACD, and, the writing had lost some of the quaintness - so I suppose you could put it down to a more contemporary writing style and a more modern theme.

    I did enjoy it though and would pick up another if AH writes one.

    Thanks for this review.

    Lynn :D