“Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Grinning Cat” is a story written by Joseph W. Svec III, in which Sherlock Holmes and doctor Watson are hired to save Wonderland and its inhabitants from disappearing.
The book pretends to be a manuscript found in the belongings of dr. Watson, being one of his records of Sherlock Holmes’ cases, dating 1898 .
It describes from Watson’s point of view how the Cheshire Cat, Hatter, and White Rabbit are visiting Sherlock Holmes because there is trouble in Wonderland: Alice and several other Wonderland inhabitants are missing. Not only that, but parts of Wonderland itself are disappearing. They beg Holmes to help put a stop to this and bring everyone back.
This is the start of many strange happenings, that force Sherlock Holmes to reconsider his way of seeing the world, and challenge his logical thinking skills to the max.
First of all, I must admit that I have never read a Sherlock Holmes book. So I cannot compare this book to any of the original stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can, of course, tell you how much it is in the spirit of the ‘Alice’ books from Lewis Carroll.
Unfortunately, I found the story quite disappointing. The basic elements are there: the characters from Wonderland, puns, and logic puzzles. However, neither the story line, nor the puns and puzzles in any way live up to Carroll’s book. The characters do not speak like they do in the Alice in Wonderland books. The puns are not very clever – but still the characters are inclined to immediately explain many of them, just in case you did not get them.
I did have fun with trying to solve the logical puzzles Holmes is confronted with myself, before continuing with the story.
Although fortunately Svec knows better than to call the Hatter ‘the Mad Hatter’, he does mistakenly call the Jabberwock ‘Jabberwocky’. Perhaps influenced by Tim Burton’s movie, in which the same error is made? He also mentions a ‘Door Mouse’ in stead of a Dormouse. This could have easily been avoided with some quick fact checking.
The book could also have used a proper editor, as it contains several misplaced punctuation marks and other misspellings (even Lewis Carroll’s name is misspelled as ‘Caroll’ once).
The story is only 137 pages long and very easy to read. Paragraphs are short and lots of things happen in only a few lines of text. It did make me wonder about the target audience of the book. Is it adults or children? Admittedly, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there are suitable for both as well, so the author may have intentionally tried to write for all ages?
Although in the ‘Alice’ books there also are no prominent moments of suspense, I found these very much lacking in Svec’s story. Every time Sherlock Holmes, dr. Watson and the others encounter a problematic situation, it is solved in no-time. On several occasions, they do not even have to worry about it because it is solved for them by others, without even having to ask.
All in all, the book (with no pictures in it) was not what I was hoping for. Still, I had no trouble finishing it. The story can still be a fun read if you don’t expect any Wonderlandish feel in it whatsoever. It is quite cheap as well, so I would not call it a waste of money either.
If I had to compare this book to an ‘Alice’ novel, I think it would resemble the Nursery Alice more than it does Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Want to read it for yourself? You can buy the book here.