A history professor at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Tracy Revels has been a Sherlock Holmes fan since 5th grade. She teaches a class on Sherlock Holmes called “The Game’s Afoot!” along with more conventional courses in Civil War and women’s history. Shadowfall is her first novel and already a bestseller amongst Holmes fans since its launch last month.
“This book is a first Novel by Ms. Revels. She has previously confined her Sherlockian efforts to a series of parodies, many in the form of radio scripts, which were recently published as “Sherlock Holmes: Mostly Parodies.” She has a patently wicked sense of humor and is a great favorite among the readers of “The Gaslight Gazette.”
This novel begins with Dr. Watson unexpectedly walking in on Holmes while he is being solicited for help by Titania, the queen of The Sidhe. The fact that Titania is beautiful, nude and fully winged adds to Watson’s surprise. From that point on, the book varies sharply for the commonplace world of Victorian London. It is full of lively, entertaining, fearsome and frantic characters. In fact, the ‘feeling’ of the book is very much that of “The Sign of Four.” Odd persons wander in and out of the tale, mysteries abound but Holmes always seems to know what he is doing.
There are at least four characters drawn directly from traditional accounts who dominate the action of the book. Each has individuality and oddities of nature and each was pivotal in their own time and place. Further, the fantastic nature of the events and subject matter do not really penetrate the reader’s sense of time and place for some while. These odd events are happening in the familiar London of the Canon; foggy streets, seedy theatres, steel rimmed carriage wheels and all. Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson are preempted by The Government and Holmes and Watson are summoned to Windsor castle by a faithful retainer to receive their orders.
It is only in the late chapters that the oddities at last become overwhelming. Until the final scenes begin to unfold, we could be in the midst of any Canonical adventure except for the occasional oddity along the way. The ending is both technically satisfying and emotionally unsettling. The magical inconsistencies now become wildly apparent and Holmes has become an object of some wonder and fear. Watson, however, remains Watson, British to the core, as he quietly completes his obligations and his narrative.
This is a comforting and disquieting book all at the same time. The sense of ‘1895’ is so strong that it overwhelms the strangeness introduced by the preternatural elements for most of the narrative. Holmes and Watson work together with the familiar combination of trust and knowledge that fill the Canon but are finally separated by their own natures and circumstances. It is odd and familiar, comfortable and unsettling. It is just, as I suppose, as the author planned it to be.”