Book Review: A Study in Charlotte

Ra-study-in-charlotteating: Fire starstarstarstar

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is a book that was tentatively on my TBR list. While voting on Goodreads for best Young Adult novel, I saw this one was receiving a lot of votes. Besides it’s gorgeous cover, the plot was pretty intriguing, although a little different than my usual genre. This book was more of a mystery book with some romance on the side.

Drawing back on some literary classics, Cavallaro’s main characters are Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson. Yes, they are related to those Holmeses and Watsons. This alone was interesting to me, because I kinda love literary allusions, and also Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are just such classic characters. Jamie and Charlotte don’t start off as the best of friends, but a
murder inspired from straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel turns them from enemies into partners as they try to solve the case and clear their names. The more they work together, the closer they get, and the more their relationship grows. 

“I wanted the two of us to be complicated together, to be difficult and engrossing and blindingly brilliant.”

Charlotte is a typical Holmes in every way. She is clever, logical, analytical, observant, and solitary. Her family has been training her in deductive skills since she was born, and she solved her first case at ten years old. However, for mysterious reasons, her parents have sent her away from Scotland Yard to Sherringford.  She is not a squeaky clean character, although what detective is. She has done bad things in the past, been in messy situations, and has taken advantage of people. But while she is mostly a hard shell, she does have a soft spot for her roommate Lena, an unlikely friend, and Jamie, although that relationship takes time. It is obvious that the one Holmes trait she is lacking in is being detached and emotionless. This emotion is part of the reason she gets sent to America, and also softens her character. 

Jamie seems like a typical teenage boy who happens to be related to John Watson. While he shows interest in crime solving, it was mostly in his younger years. His family doesn’t raise their kids to be mini detectives and train them in observation, so he’s grown up with a normal life. However, he’s always imagined that he and Charlotte would be best friends, solving crimes together as they race through Europe. 

“I was maybe the only person to ever have his imaginary friend made real.”

As the story progresses, you can tell that Jamie is going to be the heart and conscience of their duo. He feels things deeply, speaks poetically, and cares about others. He thinks of himself as Holmes’ sidekick, although Holmes was always quick to correct him. However, I kinda had to agree with Jamie. His deductive skills, while above average, where nowhere near Charlotte’s quick mind and years of training. Mostly he helps provide a distraction when necessary, or a cover, and makes sure Holmes doesn’t forget the basic necessities of survival while in her fervor to solve the case. However, he is still such a sweet character that I couldn’t imagine the story without him. 

“Jamie Watson is far smarter than you think. He isn’t my accomplice. He’s no one’s accomplice. And he isn’t guilty of anything

As the story went on, I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in the mystery. While I am proud to say all my predictions were wrong, it was fun to be surprised at every twist and turn of the plot and wait for all the pieces to fall into place. My one suggestion for you reading this book is remember every detail if you want to try to solve the case before Charlotte and Jamie. Cavallaro gives us the tools to, but I was always too distracted to notice them. But she doesn’t waste one word.

Fun story relating to this book. Last night I was having trouble sleeping and so I started to read, as I always do when I am sleepless. A couple warnings about this. This book is a total page turner, so what was intended to be fifteen or twenty minutes of reading turned into something around an hour. I also have what you could call an…imaginative mind, so this book left me spooked in the dark. Instead of lulling me to sleep, the action, suspense, and mystery made me alert and jumping at my own shadows. So if you’re like me, maybe read this book in broad daylight. 

One of the things I really loved about this was the humor. It’s not really in your face, but more in the character’s interactions. Since Jamie and Charlotte are pretty opposite, their conversations can be humorous in how they react to each other. I also loved how Charlotte and Jamie’s friendship started to grow. Even though I don’t think Charlotte completely understood the concept of friendship and some of the key principles of it, it is evident that both of them have a certain level of trust in the other, a need to protect each other, and a level of comfort that comes from the other. When they both take care of each other, it is so heartwarming and the care is really obvious. 

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

Overall, this is a pretty solid read. I totally understand why so many people voted for it on Goodreads. While it isn’t my favorite (I am more of a romance person) you should definitely read this if you like mysteries, friendships, complicated family histories, and opposites attract stories. 

What did you think of this book? Are you a fan of the “opposites attract” trope? Do you like literary allusions or retelling of classic stories?


I use my own unique rating system on this blog! Check it out here: Rating Descriptions

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