Book Review: The Irregular Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!; The New Adventures of Solar Pons: Tales of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street; Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk, Tales of a Retro Future; & Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk, Mechanical Men and Other Otherworldly Endeavors.
Belanger Books is a publisher devoted to releasing new stories starring Sherlock Holmes and expansions of his universe. In this review, four anthologies by Belanger Books will be discussed: a collection of new Holmes stories for young readers, a continuation of the investigations of Solar Pons (August Derleth’s affectionate pastiche of Holmes), and a pair of anthologies featuring Holmes in an alternative past.
The Irregular Adventures of Sherlock Holmes! is a collection of new short stories geared towards middle-school and high-school students. Notably, the contributors to this collection are not just adult writers, but also include teenagers and pre-teens as well. The youth contributions are uniformly well-written and full of imaginative twists. Children feature heavily in the stories, and though the narratives are consistently Holmesian, the prose and plotting are geared towards a younger audience, and the anthology will serve as a great introduction to Sherlock Holmes for children too young for the original canon.
The New Adventures of Solar Pons: Tales of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street is a continuation of the adventures of August Derleth’s pastiche (pronounce “Sherlock Holmes” with a heavy lisp). Pons is like Holmes and modelled his career and appearance after Holmes, but Pons is indisputably not Holmes. The Pons stories often have a touch of self-awareness in their parodic nature, and frequently interact with characters from other fictional worlds. There is a touch more whimsy to the Pons cases than in the original works of Conan Doyle, and overall, these new adventures have a similar tone to Derleth’s stories– a clever, amusing parallel universe to Sherlock Holmes.
The two volumes in the Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk series are far different from the original canon. Here, mechanization and technology take center stage in various ways. In one, Holmes is actually an android. In another, Holmes and Watson must battle mechanized birds. In yet another, minor characters from the original stories have become air pirates. The tone of the tales may raise some eyebrows, especially for people uninitiated to the steampunk genre, but for readers who are willing to accept seeing favorite characters in an utterly changed world, the results are fun and provide an imaginative twist to the familiar mysteries.
All of these anthologies are well worth a look for anybody who wants to read some unconventional stories with a Sherlock Holmes flavor, though each of these books may appeal to a different subset of tastes. In particular, The Irregular Adventures of Sherlock Holmes! might inspire young people to try their hands with creative writing. The Belanger anthologies are a great place for Sherlock Holmes fan to turn to when the original canon just isn’t enough.
The Irregular Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!
Edited by Derrick and Brian Belanger
The New Adventures of Solar Pons: Tales of the Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street
Edited by David Marcum
Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk, Tales of a Retro Future
Edited by Derrick Belanger
Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk, Mechanical Men and Other Otherworldly Endeavors
Edited by Derrick Belanger