Thursday, March 14, 2019

[Book Review] The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.

What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

 * * * 

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro 

This review will not have any spoilers for The Last of August but I may reference events that happened in the first book, A Study in Charlotte. If you haven't read A Study in Charlotte and do not want to be spoiled about anything I recommend checking out my spoiler-free review above and coming back when you're caught up! I recommend reading this one too because it's also a really fun read! 

Onto the review! 

tw/cw: drugs, mention of rape, PTSD

I am so happy I decided to jump right into this book after finishing re-reading the first one because I am in love with Jamie Watson & Charlotte Holmes so much. Although in this book our heroes' friendship is going through some serious rocky times, I am so excited to see where this show continues. 

"Maybe this is what happened when you built a friendship on a foundation of mutual disaster.  It collapsed the second things righted themselves, left you desperate for the next earthquake."

Like I said, there is a lot more conflict between Jamie and Charlotte in this book than there was in the first one. And I admit that the strain between them was really hard to read and it made me genuinely sad. I think their friendship being complicated was often very frustrating to read because both of them were assuming each others feelings instead of just talking about not only what they wanted but what they didn't want. However, with Sherlock & John's friendship (platonic) often being strained as well, the parallels between them and Charlotte & Jamie made it easy to compare. Charlotte and Jamie are both incredibly flawed characters, which makes them all the more complex of characters. I think between Charlotte's PTSD and Jamie's loneliness it was realistic for them to have tension in the way they did. 

With that said, their friendship wasn't all doom and gloom. Sure, they're working through the trauma they went through in A Study in Charlotte, they are teenagers after all who on a daily basis were almost killed. But they had a lot of sweet moments together, and I think because they were spread so far apart when they happened I latched onto them. This book really showed me how invested I am in them as individuals but also their friendship. From the way Charlotte is with Jamie's little sister Shelby, the way they tease each other jokingly, and I am unashamed to admit that there are multiple soft moments between them that I teared up while reading. 

"Oftentimes, I withhold information from Watson for this very reason. He resents this, I think. My "magic tricks." I don't know if he's understood yet who the reveals are actually for."

I enjoyed the setting in this installment of the series a lot. The story starts in London with Jamie and Charlotte visiting Jamie's mom & sister but they then travel to Berlin and later on Prague. Both Berlin and Prague aren't typical settings in YA books so it's always fun to have new places in Europe to read about. We don't get too many descriptions but the ones we get have beautiful imagery. I think the writing so far in this series is really well done. I love the balance of mystery, humor, character development, etc. There is one chapter fully in Charlotte's POV and honestly it's such a sweet one. Being in Charlotte's head really helps clear some stuff up when it comes to her side of the story because she doesn't open up to  Jamie very often. I love vulnerable soft Charlotte and being able to see that side of her is one of my favorite things about the series. 

In A Study in Charlotte we learn that Charlotte has been raped when a classmate puts a date rape drug into her drink. Charlotte develops PTSD because of it and has problems with intimacy, which is something she isn't really working through because she isn't a fan of psychology or being vulnerable. So she isn't talking to anyone about it and it's becoming more and more evident that she isn't doing a good job handling it on her own, which makes sense since it was a traumatic experience. I think that not only is this handled really well and it makes me feel for Charlotte so much.  

"It's strange to grieve for your former self, and still I think it's something that any girl understands. I've shed so many skins, I hardly know who I am now - muscle, maybe, or just memory. Perhaps just the will to keep going."

The underground art forgery ring was unique and definitely interesting, but I wasn't as engaged in the mystery like I was with the previous one in A Study in Charlotte. I was interested in where Leander went and why he disappeared and I knew that his disappearance would connect with the art forgery plot but I just wasn't fully on board. It didn't hold my attention the way it probably should have and because of that I took a lot of breaks while reading. If I didn't love Charlotte and Jamie as much as I do, I am sure it would have taken me longer to read. I think knowing that some people call this book the worst of the four helped me push through knowing the rest is better. 

I could get over not being super interested in the art forgery plot line because it wasn't the worst. It was easy to follow and in the end everything made sense so I wasn't confused or anything. What I ended up really not liking was the ending. It was very meh for me and I didn't like how rushed it all felt. Normally, with books like these, especially since they're so heavily influenced by the original Sherlock Holmes stories, I expect to have my mind blown with twists and turns and this time it just felt lackluster for me. I think the cliffhanger was a mistake because instead of making me want to frantically pick up the next one I was left feeling annoyed. That being said, I do plan on reading the third and fourth books in this series. I think my love for Jamie and Charlotte would have me reading a series that went on forever without any regrets. I am really excited to continue the series because I have heard amazing things about book three, The Case For Jamie. 

"She smiled at me, that one particular smile I hardly ever saw, the one that could open padlocks, Yale locks, bank vaults, the one that was a trapdoor down into everything." 

Overall, I highly recommend this series, even with this not being my favorite of the two I really enjoyed parts of the story. I think that if you're a fan of the Sherlock Holmes short stories you know some are really good and others are meh, but that doesn't make the stories as a whole bad, and that is how  I am seeing this book. It's good, but not as good as the first one. Which is always a bummer, you obviously want to continue to get better as you keep reading. However, I'll say that I have noticed that the fans of this series is split, some think this book is better than the first and others disagree so if you liked the first one I say give it a try. Even if it's only to get to the rest of the series. 

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment