Saturday, April 1, 2017

Book Review: The Last of August, by Brittany Cavallaro

The Last of August
(Charlotte Holmes, Book 2)
Brittany Cavallaro
Hardcover, 336 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
February 14, 2017
Mystery, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Amazon US

Book Synopsis: 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.

This review has been a while coming.....I must admit that I have actually been putting off writing it. Actually, I have not finished this novel.... 

I purchased The Last of August on Amazon. In fact, I even pre-ordered it. Initially, I was very excited to receive this second novel in the series, having greatly enjoyed the first installment! So it came as a complete surprise when I began to read it, and found  that I just wasn't enjoying it as much as the first one.....

A Study In Charlotte was a truly delightful read! The characters were wonderful, and the action fast-paced, as well as totally intriguing. However, what I enjoyed the most about that book was all the references to great Sherlock Holmes stories. These were very cleverly woven into the plot, and worked so well with Cavallaro's own story. Also, her characters were spot on, and I just loved how they worked together, mirroring the sleuthing partnership of their ancestors, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Things are entirely different with this second novel.

First off, the characters don't "sparkle" as they did in the first book. They were just SO vivid in the previous installment! I felt connected to them somehow. Also, Charlotte Holmes just seemed more likable in the first novel. Although she has the same type of personality as Sherlock Holmes -- analytical, strictly logical, and mostly detached and emotionless, the author was somehow able to endear her to the reader. Heck, she even came across as FUNNY sometimes, although she always took her own behavior seriously. And her partnership with James Watson (nicknamed "Jamie", to his great chagrin) was pure electricity

In this novel, Charlotte (known mostly as "Holmes", like her illustrious ancestor) seems to be a rather lackluster character, one who has serious mental issues. Furthermore, her brilliant intellect doesn't seem to be much in evidence.

I was also disappointed with Jamie Watson. This second novel begins to focus more on his growing romantic feelings for Holmes, to the detriment of their working partnership. I would have preferred it if Cavallaro had balanced this element of the story with the excitement of their joint work on the new case presented in this sequel.

The case itself was also not all that interesting, although it could have been. It turns out that a new character, Leander, who happens to be Holmes's uncle, has been working undercover to bring to justice the participants in an art forgery ring. Obviously, this could have indeed created a very exciting plot full of twists and turns, as happened with the first book. But where was all that excitement? It was sorely missing....

Missing as well were any references to any of the Holmes stories. Well, I suppose Cavallaro didn't want to create a stereotypical plot. Still, I would have liked it if she had thrown in some small reference to those stories.

The novel got off to a VERY slow start, and for some reason, Cavallaro saw fit to start psychoanalyzing the members of the Holmes family. She also threw in some cryptic clues hinting at an ambivalent relationship between Leander and Watson's father. I didn't see this as really necessary to the plot.

Add to all of the above the inclusion of Holmes's ex-violin teacher, August Moriarty, whose role in the whole thing is rather confusing, at best. Plus, he makes me wonder if the issues between him and Holmes are indeed a thing of the past.

I also disliked that Watson kind of began to eclipse Holmes in this book, as he attempted to do some brilliant sleuthing of his own. That struck me as a bit of a sexist, male chauvinist type of attempt on his part to somehow be "worthy" of someone as brilliant as Charlotte Holmes.

In short, this second novel did not live up to the greatness of the first, in my honest opinion. It just dragged and dragged, and I kept hoping that it would pick up, that I would be able to shout, "Yes!!!", and get into the action. Alas, that was not to be....

Now I feel just the tiniest bit guilty....perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance.... I might go back to it later on, and give it one more go. But I'm wondering if that will do any good. The first novel grabbed me right away, and didn't let go until I had entirely finished it. This one just..... didn't. But I might still take a stab at it again. I don't know. 

I had been wishing that the author would not limit herself to three novels, as she seems to be planning on doing. However, if the action doesn't pick up in the next installment, and the characters don't jump off the page, just as they did in the first novel, perhaps I'll be glad she won't make this a full-blown series. We'll see.... For now, the book remains halfway read. 

MY RATING:            

You can access my review of 
A Study In Charlotte HERE.

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, including A Study in Charlotte and The Last of August. She's also the author of the poetry collection Girl-King (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College, and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she's a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.


  1. This happens to me sometimes, where I love a book and rave about it, then the sequel kind of underwhelms. always a bummer. sorry this happened to you w/ this one! I think DNF'ing sometimes is the answer, sometimes you just gotta move on lol!

    1. Hi, Greg!

      Oh, I HATE when this kind of thing happens!! Just when one is getting enthused by a new series, one gets disappointed....

      Yeah, unfortunately, the thing to do in such cases is just to move on. There's not enough time to read all the WONDERFUL books waiting out there, so why waste time on those that bore us? Lol.

      There's a third book coming along in the near future. I'm now wondering whether I should give it a chance. Most likely, I won't!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! :) :) :)

  2. Well, boo. It sucks that after such a wonderful start, this lost steam so much. I thought this was such a cool take on Holmes/Watson

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Yeaah, I was SO disappointed..... :( I couldn't BELIEVE that the second book would be such total BORE. Like you, I thought this was a highly creative cool take on the original Holmes/Watson partnership.

      Unfortunately, I do need to move on. There are many other TERRIFIC books out there (and sitting on my home shelves, lol) waiting for me to read them!! Lol.

      Thanks for the nice comment!! <3 :)

  3. I'm sorry this one didn't blow you away like the first one. It sounds like it had a lot of promise, and I love the concept of this series; I hope you do give it another chance sometime and that it grows on you. I love Sherlock Holmes stories, and I'm definitely going to be looking into these! Thank you for putting this on my radar!! This was such a fantastic review, Maria <3 <3 <3 *huge hugs*


    1. Hi, Mckenzie! definitely didn't. I couldn't believe it, either! I thought, since the first book was SO FREAKING GOOD, that this one would be, too. Nope!

      Well, maybe I'll give it another chance in the future. The concept IS FANTASTIC, after all! We'll see.... I'm glad you're going to look into it yourself! You already know you'll enjoy the first book! You're very welcome for the sharing!! <3 <3 <3

      Thanks for the lovely comment, and the compliment on my review!! You're so sweet!! HUGE HUGS TO YOU, TOO!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  4. Excellent review, Maria :) I love the look of this book (and I'm obsessed with anything Holmes & Watson) but I'm so sorry it disappointed :( I hate whens sequels do that!
    I can't stand it when characters aren't as vivid, and come across wish-washy. And anything sexist just grinds on my nerves :(

    Thanks for the lovely review, I think I'll give this book a miss. But would you definitely recommend I try the first book? Thanks! <3 <3 :) :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words


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