Knife Edge

Andy Lane
Apr 4, 2017

Sherlock Holmes is known for his keen intellect and astute powers of observation -- in this YA spinoff, Andrew Lane explores the adventures of Sherlock's youth and how he came to be the detective we all know and love.

When I first picked up Knife Edge, I was simultaneously unimpressed by the cliché cover design and excited by the fact that the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate had actually endorsed this particular book series. I soon discovered that a group of adults' opinion of a YA novel is not always the most accurate indicator of a teenager's liking.

There were many aspects that I appreciated about Knife Edge, and many more that I did not -- in general, this book really disappointed me. As an avid fan of the original books, I expected an action-packed, intriguing story centered on a young, perhaps slightly different, yet in-character Sherlock. My mind was open to different interpretations of a young Sherlock, but I was taken aback by the lack of originality in both Sherlock's characterization and the main storyline. It seemed that so many hackneyed YA tropes were jammed into this novel; there was the completely unnecessary romantic subplot/love triangle, the broken family unit trope, the "I'm a what" moment when Sherlock stated the obvious and decided he enjoyed solving crimes, the Big Dire Moment when Sherlock suddenly gained the energy and skills to defeat the Big Bad Guy in the end... aside from some deduction sequences and a couple rare scenes, there were few moments that distinctly screamed "Sherlock" to me. I imagine that if the names of Sir Conan Doyle's cast of characters were switched out, this book could easily be just another indistinguishable YA novel.

Unfortunately, the writing style of Knife Edge brings it no redemption. Though the action is well paced and the main plot (disregarding all the angsty romantic overtones) is nicely planned out, the writing is simplistic and over-explains all of Sherlock's observations and conclusions. I did not, however, dislike every aspect of the book; there are parts of the story -- specifically of the magic tricks and the explanation of the tower -- which were impressive and seemed to be well thought-out. However, I believe that Knife Edge retains nearly none of the elegance and intrigue of the deductions of the original Sherlock Holmes series. The concept of a young Sherlock Holmes is excellent but unfortunately, it is immaturely executed in this book.

I think this book is more like a J book than a YA book, though most likely fans of any action or mystery books would enjoy reading it. I would not recommend it to fans of the original Sherlock Holmes due to the aforementioned lack of relevance.

Written by
Misha from Leawood Pioneer Library YAAC

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