The World’s Greatest Detective Meets Horror’s Most Notorious Villains!
Late 1895, and Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Dr John Watson are called upon to investigate a missing persons case. On the face of it, this seems like a mystery that Holmes might relish – as the person in question vanished from a locked room. But this is just the start of an investigation that will draw the pair into contact with a shadowy organisation talked about in whispers, known only as the ‘Order of the Gash.’
As more people go missing in a similar fashion, the clues point to a sinister asylum in France and to the underworld of London. However, it is an altogether different underworld that Holmes will soon discover – as he comes face to face not only with those followers who do the Order’s bidding on Earth, but those who serve it in Hell: the Cenobites. Holmes’ most outlandish adventure to date, one that has remained shrouded in secrecy until now, launches him headlong into Clive Barker’s famous Hellraising universe… and things will never be the same again.
– S & S –
I have to say that I’m not usually one for mash-ups but this book caught my eye. Mostly the cover, which is simple but very nice. I also really enjoyed the Gaslight series ( Gaslight Grotesque, Gaslight Arcanum and Gaslight Grimoire) so when I saw it was Sherlock within the Hellraiser universe I was very excited.
The first half moves rather slowly, told through Watson’s point of view as is usual for a Sherlock story. There are mysterious disappearances which aren’t very mysterious if you’re at all familiar with the Hell-verse. And that’s really about it.
Not much happens for quite a while, really. Sherlock sends Watson off to some hospital and Watson promptly gets in some trouble there. And gets conveniently rescued by Henri D’Amour, whose name will probably be familiar to most readers of Clive Barker. Although the confusion over what he’s doing in the Hell-verse is justified.
The second half switches over to Sherlock’s point of view and things pick up a bit, particularly when he has the Lament Configuration. Then things go to Hell. Literally and figuratively. Watson and Sherlock find themselves caught in a power play between the Leviathan and someone they thought long dead.
Major Spoilers ahead so highlight to see:
Moriarty has been ‘promoted’ to The Engineer and has created his own army of pseudo-Cenobites that he can create and bring back at will, using ‘black light’ stolen from the Leviathan. Sherlock becomes a Cenobite, making a deal with Leviathan that afterward Watson will be able to return to our world. The ghost of Mary also pops in to guide Watson and show him all around ‘Hell’. Which conveniently includes a library where Watson can learn all about warfare and black magic simply by touching the book. That would be a handy ability to have. It also includes an armory with every weapon known to man. Thus begins a battle between the Sherlock Cenobite Army and Moriarty’s pseudo-Cenobite Army.
End of Spoilers
Which is where it all falls apart for me. The Watson/Sherlock portion just ends with an epilogue attached which is basically the plot of Hellbound Heart.
I had a hard time getting into it. As I said the first half moves very slowly because, in a Sherlock book, there should be a mystery. In Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell there is a mystery but since we the readers know why the disappearances are happening it’s not much of a mystery. We’re just waiting for Watson and Sherlock to catch up. The other thing I didn’t care much for was the constant viewpoint switching between Watson and Sherlock. It’s written in first person and the voices of Sherlock and Watson just don’t sound different enough. I’m also a little tired of the whole “Watson is a toddler that needs to be protected by Sherlock” thing. In fact, neither of them seem all that smart in this book. The Big Action Sequence near the end is eye-roll inducing. It’s like the writer was trying so hard to fit in every reference he could to the Hellraiser series that he forgot to include a story.
So, in wrap-up, I can’t say I highly recommend Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. Sherlock fans are probably going to be a bit disappointed but Hellraiser fans might enjoy the references. But to me that’s part of the problem. There’s so many nudge-nudge, wink-wink moments that there’s not much of a story between it all.
3 out of 5 Skulls
Click on cover for link to the book on Goodreads