It would be fair to say I was delighted when I was approved for an ARC of The Angel of the Crows, as this author wrote one of my favourite fantasy books of the past couple of decades (The Goblin Emperor, in case you've been living under a rock). I knew this wasn't set in the same universe but was, in fact, a story set in Victorian London - I was still looking forward to reading it.
It's in this context that I start to try and review The Angel of the Crows, while trying to get my thoughts straight about it. I suspect, like many of the books I bounce off, this will be one that some people will absolutely rave about - for me, it was the afterword that told me everything I suspected as I read it, that this started life as Sherlock Holmes wingfic. The basic premise, after all, is that this is a world where angels and other creatures live alongside humans, so our Watson-surrogate who is the narrator comes back from Afghanistan after being injured encountering a Fallen one and with an unexpected aftermath in addition to a bad limp.
The setting itself holds most of the interest for me, as for the story the author chose to recycle both a number of the most well known Sherlock Holmes stories and the actual crimes of Jack the Ripper. Unfortunately, these are both things I know quite a bit about and that took some of the shine off the plotting. The character of Doyle, our narrator, is fairly well fleshed out but the same can't be said for Crow, who is an angel who stands in for Holmes himself. I think it was partly the frequent use of the word 'giggled' to describe this individual laughing, which always makes me think of small children.
In the end, The Angel of the Crows just didn't work for me: too much unanswered for me about Doyle's choices and also the relationship between Doyle and Crow. Oddly enough, it seemed to be the places where the story diverted from the original (for example, Holmes not turning up unexpectedly when Watson thinks he's in London) that left me feeling like there were missed opportunities.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.