Addison, Katherine. The Angel of Crows. New York: Tor, 2020.
ISBN-13: 978-0765387394 | $27.99 USD | 432 pages | Historical Fantasy
Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor, returns with The Angel of the Crows, a fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
The Angel of Crows is essentially Sherlock Holmes fanfic with some different names substituted in and a few other minor changes to add a supernatural twist, and while I’m not a big fan of Sherlock, I still found I enjoyed the novelty. It’s a great balance of kooky and gritty, and while I was more interested in the latter aspect, given I was interested in how Jack the Ripper fit in, I still found it a fairly solid book that somewhat logically fits together.
I love the relationship between Crow and Doyle, and how it pays homage to Sherlock and Watson (which is obvious even to someone with only the bare minimum of Sherlock knowledge). I’ve heard about Sherlock’s awkwardness with others, and seen it manifest differently in another adaptation, but I think it’s well done here by having Crow be an angel who really doesn’t understand humans.
As for the Ripper element, I enjoyed the way it was interspersed into the more traditional Sherlock stuff, and attempted to provide conclusions to one of the most notorious cold cases in history.
I personally enjoyed it for what it is, even though I did feel like it was a bit odd at times. I think fans of Sherlock would also love it, as would anyone interested in fun steampunk-esque mysteries.
Katherine Addison is the author of the Locus Award-winning novel The Goblin Emperor, and her short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. As Sarah Monette, she is the author of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series and coauthor, with Elizabeth Bear, of the Iskryne series. She lives neat Madison, Wisconsin.
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