This is the first book in a short series.
Confession time. I’m a huge fan of Victoriana. I grew up reading Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, H. Rider Haggard and of course, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. As I got older, I discovered Steampunk, such films as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and much later, Mortal Engines. The Victorian period, and what can be made of a modernised version of it, has always appealed to me.
So, it will come as no surprise that I write stories set in that era, mostly in my alternative world of Norlandia, where the society is based on a starting point of the England of the 1850s.
Which brings me neatly on to A House of Mirrors, the first adventure I’ve seen featuring Sherlock Holmes’s housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, as a character in her own right.
I found the book via a Facebook group that I belong to, and the premise really intrigued me. Mrs Hudson was a minor yet important character in the world of the consulting detective, much as May, the “Scottish treasure,” was in the original James Bond stories.
Yet Conan-Doyle never did much more with her (apart from getting her name wrong in one book), it was left to Cinema and T.V. to flesh her out. What stories could she tell, if only she was given the chance?
Here’s the Blurb.
‘What is your profession, Mr Holmes?’
When Nell Villiers’ policeman husband vanishes on a routine case, her life is wrecked. Placed under protection by Inspector Lestrade, Nell is ripped from her old life and her own secret police work.
Instead, she must live as a widow, Mrs Hudson, in a safe house: 221B Baker Street. Two years on, with the case still unsolved, Nell vows to defy Lestrade and use her skills to discover the truth.
She takes a lodger to cover her tracks; a young man called Sherlock Holmes. How could she know what would happen?
‘It’s always been fun before – but now the police are the enemy…’
What an excellent idea!
A House of Mirrors is not content with being a well thought out detective story, it’s also a very atmospheric tale. With chapters set at different times, it manages to keep up the pace, every bit of information is logical and used to maximum effect. It all makes sense and adds to the tension, as the past is used to explain the present.
As we progress deeper into the tale, we find out how Mrs Hudson came to be who she was and why her life is tied to 221b Baker Street. And, it turns out, there is a lot more to her than we might have expected.
Of course, we meet Sherlock, his brother Mycroft, Dr Watson and Inspector Lestrade. But they are only bit players here, the real story is all hers.
It turns out that Mrs Hudson has a past, with a mystery that needs unravelling. With the help of Sherlock Holmes, she’s about to do just that.
Mrs Hudson is a strong and capable woman, she might be living in a man’s world but she is never daunted by the challenges that brings.
The setting is well researched and feels authentic, you get a real sense of Victorian London from the descriptions, not just the places but the dress, people, conversations. They all add to the overall enjoyment of what is a very well thought out story.
In short, I would recommend this book and I’m planning on reading the next in the series, In Sherlock’s Shadow.
Five stars from me.
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