The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters. Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate...

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Title:The Affair of the Mysterious Letter
Author:Alexis Hall
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter Reviews

  • Sam (AMNReader)

    So, I have mentioned how well Hall's romances work for me. How brilliant I think he is. Creative....

    And now that's painfully obvious with the release of this full-fledged fantasy retelling. Most astounding though, is I've read three thoroughly different styles from Hall-and with the exception of pieces of this feeling slightly repetitive, probably with good reason and not that I minded. Because...

    I've mentioned how well Boulton works for me as a narrator (though in this h

    So, I have mentioned how well Hall's romances work for me. How brilliant I think he is. Creative....

    And now that's painfully obvious with the release of this full-fledged fantasy retelling. Most astounding though, is I've read three thoroughly different styles from Hall-and with the exception of pieces of this feeling slightly repetitive, probably with good reason and not that I minded. Because...

    I've mentioned how well Boulton works for me as a narrator (though in this he isn't adopting his usual voice 90% of the time, which was a good choice for Wyndham's character).

    This book put them together. So um-was there any doubt?

    It's zany and fun and really really delightful. It spans monsters and sexuality and verses.....It's a huge ball of imagination wrapped in a tiny little book and PLEASE tell me there will be more.

    Also, might be my favorite introduction scene for two characters.

  • Emma Newman

    I was lucky enough to get a galley from my editor and OMG I loved this book so much. It was a sheer delight to read and has dragged me out of a massive reading slump that lasted for months. Honestly, do yourself a favour and get it as soon as it comes out. It's like the joy of reading Gail Carriger's Soulless all over again, but wrapped in a gleeful love affair with Sherlock Holmes.

    Read it. READ. IT.

  • Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)

    This is without a doubt my favorite book of the year so far and my favorite fantasy pastiche of all time! It would take one hell of a book to usurp The Affair of the Mysterious Letter's first place position. Even though this is a fantasy pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the likeness to the characters and their peculiarities is absolutely remarkable. The writing is also phenomenal. I really, really, hope further adventures of Shaharazad Hass and Captain John Wyndham will be coming to us so

    This is without a doubt my favorite book of the year so far and my favorite fantasy pastiche of all time! It would take one hell of a book to usurp The Affair of the Mysterious Letter's first place position. Even though this is a fantasy pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the likeness to the characters and their peculiarities is absolutely remarkable. The writing is also phenomenal. I really, really, hope further adventures of Shaharazad Hass and Captain John Wyndham will be coming to us soon. I need more of these two immediately.

    If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan and like the fantasy genre, then this is a must read right now. You won't be disappointed!

    *I received this ARC from Penguin Random House and the First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a fantasy retelling involving Sherlock Holmes characters.

    Captain John Wyndham is returning to Khelathra-Ven after fighting a war elsewhere for five years. He is desperate for someone where to live and winds up with Ms. Shaharazad Haas as a housemate. She’s a moody one, Ms. Haas, and is known for darkness.

    Ms. Haas is asked to solve a case

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a fantasy retelling involving Sherlock Holmes characters.

    Captain John Wyndham is returning to Khelathra-Ven after fighting a war elsewhere for five years. He is desperate for someone where to live and winds up with Ms. Shaharazad Haas as a housemate. She’s a moody one, Ms. Haas, and is known for darkness.

    Ms. Haas is asked to solve a case of blackmail against a former lover, and Captain Wyndham becomes invested in the case and drawn into the rabbit hole where he meets all kinds of unsavory characters. The case begins to feel impossible to solve, but nothing is truly impossible when Ms. Haas is involved.

    I loved this quirky, zany tribute to Holmes and Watson. What a trip! Alexis Hall’s writing is on point, and the pacing is so well-done, I just breezed through this fabulous story. I start to write something and back it back out because I don’t want to overshare the goodness within these pages. Just know: Alexis Hall is a born storyteller, this book is fresh and tons of fun, and I’m certain you’ve read nothing like it either. Cheers to Alexis Hall!

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Lois Bujold

    Reads like a mashup of Sherlock Holmes re-imagined as Yuuko from

    crossed with Lovecraft and Dr. Who. The discursive Watsonian voice of the narrator, John Wyndham, is one of the draws. A useful sample, describing his pre-story military career in the existential war against the Empress of Nothing beyond the Unending Gate:

    "Just as I was beginning to contemplate the opportunities my unexpected successes had placed before me, I was struck down by an extratemporal jezail, a fiendish weapo

    Reads like a mashup of Sherlock Holmes re-imagined as Yuuko from

    crossed with Lovecraft and Dr. Who. The discursive Watsonian voice of the narrator, John Wyndham, is one of the draws. A useful sample, describing his pre-story military career in the existential war against the Empress of Nothing beyond the Unending Gate:

    "Just as I was beginning to contemplate the opportunities my unexpected successes had placed before me, I was struck down by an extratemporal jezail, a fiendish weapon whose bullets displace themselves in time and space, meaning the injuries they cause recur unpredictably. Although I am quite well most of the time I shall, on occasion, be afflicted with a stabbing pain in my shoulder or leg or, most peculiarly, by the recollection of such a pain in the distant past, long before I had even thought of going to war."

    Thus leading the demobbed narrator to become the roommate of Ms. Shaharazad Haas, sorceress extraordinaire, at 221b Martyrs Walk, in the strange and ancient city of Khelathra-Ven. The plot, when it finally arrives (I did say discursive) seems mainly a pretext to tour the inventive bizarro world-building, but it does get there eventually. Its episodic nature (Wyndham's memoirs are, after all, published in monthly parts in

    magazine) made the long book fairly easy to put down and pick up again.

    Ta, L.

  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    This was a

    .

    On the one hand—a gender-swapped (well, for the sorceress) and queer as hell retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in a complex fantasy world? On the other hand—a Sherlock Holmes retelling written in the style of the original books.

    After an unfortunate injury that prevented him from serving in the military, Captain John Wyndham, feeling adrift from his religiously conservative home (and not welcome in his father's house), returns to th

    This was a

    .

    On the one hand—a gender-swapped (well, for the sorceress) and queer as hell retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in a complex fantasy world? On the other hand—a Sherlock Holmes retelling written in the style of the original books.

    After an unfortunate injury that prevented him from serving in the military, Captain John Wyndham, feeling adrift from his religiously conservative home (and not welcome in his father's house), returns to the city of his university days, gets a job as an alchemist in a hospital, and finds a housemate in the form of the infamous sorceress Shaharazad Haas, who is just as brilliant as she is drug addled (if you're wondering, she is

    drug addled).

    When Haas' ex-girlfriend shows up with a letter and demands that Haas figure out who is blackmailing her from marrying her fishmonger fiancée, Haas drags Wyndham all over the three cities of Khelathra-Ven to discover the culprit. Haas and Wyndham have a list—and they are going to use deduction, logic and a whole lot of luck to figure it out.

    It's a good story, but I felt like it was lost in the mountains of exposition and Wyndham (bless his ooey, gooey soul he's so precious) choosing to tell us what happened versus showing us what happened. I kept reading, hoping it would get better and that the action sequences would be...actiony...but it did not.

    At first, I was digging Wyndham's long-winded way of telling things, with the hope that eventually he'd cut it out and get to the story, but I was waiting for him to cut it out and get to the story for...the entire story. I felt like half the book was him going, "oh no dear reader, I cannot show you this," or "this person

    say

    word," or accidentally spoiling what was to come by telling us what was to come and how it turned out before it happened. It's a schtick that gets old very quickly.

    The summary promises drowned cities (okay, Ven was pretty cool), vampire seduction (much of it edited out by our favorite prude Wyndham), punching a shark (more like a graze, actually, because water drags a lot), and sky pirates (okay, that was pretty cool). Thanks to the mass amounts of exposition, it felt like each chapter draaaaaagged on, and

    , I found myself reluctant to pick this up. It felt like it took me forever to read (forever being three days, which is forever based on how short this is).

    Oh sweet pickles, I'm starting to write like the book!

    Anywho. I really appreciate this book, despite my previous complaints. Dammit, still like the book!

    Khelathra-Ven is a fascinating city, and the world was complex and deliciously weird.

    There are really creepy vampires, bending reality, lots of oozing sores and ichor, and a landlady that is really just a hive of very annoyed bees (I mean, I'd be annoyed too if Shaharazad Haas was my tenant and she kept blowing holes into walls and destroying perfectly nice watercolor paintings) who possesses rotting dead bodies in order to have a single, solid form.

    Shaharazad Haas was the perfect version of Sherlock Holmes—and by that I mean a general asshole, degenerate, self-interested, druggie genius with waaaaaay more confidence and firepower than any one person should possess (this is, surprisingly, a compliment).

    John Wyndham, for all his narrative faults, was hilariously uptight but willing to just...go along with things, because—well, we never really got that explained. He just follows her around and is constantly changing his clothes (this was a gimmick that didn't get old, surprisingly) because what he is wearing is never fit for the occasion (I feel his pain). He's also loyal, brave and truthful to a fault (as the many interrogations reveal...poor Augur Lawson).

    Finally, the LGBTQIA+ rep is off the charts. John is trans (and also gay? He mentions a husband but no other lovers?), and Shaharazad and much of the rest of the cast seem to be pansexual. There are so many queer characters and a lot of diverse representation all around.

    I just wish that the narration had been a little more straight-forward.

    However, if you loved the original Sherlock Holmes novels and are looking for an updated, queer as fuck, gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes in a weird fantasy world (or just more queer fantasy rep in general),

    I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    *delighted pterodactyl noises*

  • Cathy

    A book trying very hard to present a magical Holmes & Watson and using all the right cues. An overly amusing and mocking first person narration by

    Captain John Wyndham. A Scandal in Bohemia lurks somewhere in the background.

    The amusing tone got old pretty fast. About two hours into the audio narration I started to seriously loose interest. The microscopically small plot barely managed to hold the story together. It was a slog. I only continued, because I wanted to find out who was the

    A book trying very hard to present a magical Holmes & Watson and using all the right cues. An overly amusing and mocking first person narration by

    Captain John Wyndham. A Scandal in Bohemia lurks somewhere in the background.

    The amusing tone got old pretty fast. About two hours into the audio narration I started to seriously loose interest. The microscopically small plot barely managed to hold the story together. It was a slog. I only continued, because I wanted to find out who was the culprit.

    Actually, on second thought, the plot wasn‘t bad. There was just too much fluff in between.

    And really annoying? „Oh, she used a bad, bad word, but my publisher told me not to repeat it!“ Funny the first three times. After that, not so much!

    Nice resolution at the end and there was something truly well written just before it that caught my interest.

    In summation too much amusing vapor, too little actual story. A lot of talk, trying to create a Sherlock-Holmes-apropriate atmosphere. Some great ideas, smothered in the overly quaint narration. Kudos regarding the cameos of various gothic horror novels. Pretty nice Dracula rendition.

    Best part of this novel: The excellent audiobook narrator, Nicholas Boulton. His tone of voice reminded me a bit of Stephen Fry.

    The author has written some romance novels that look like they could be fun.... Other than that I will definitely not continue with this, if there should be a sequel. I will look up the audiobook narrator though.

    The author on Sherlock Holmes:

  • Moony Eliver

    I won a GR giveaway for this one, but it pains me to say it was not for me. I DNFed it really early because it was just not holding my interest. There was a lot of exposition that was pretty dry, and I wasn't hooked enough to plow through it. :(

  • K.J. Charles

    Absolutely gleeful. A wildly enjoyable Holmes/Watson riff in a mad Lovecraftian fantasy world where reality is optional at best. Holmes is a drug-addled sorceress, while Watson is a buttoned up refugee from a terrifyingly puritanical country, and a large part of the fun is how he attempts to narrate a story of wild sex, appalling behaviour and a lot of swearing without actually putting any such shocking material on paper. It's very meta, as Wyndham comments on the goings-on from a distance of tw

    Absolutely gleeful. A wildly enjoyable Holmes/Watson riff in a mad Lovecraftian fantasy world where reality is optional at best. Holmes is a drug-addled sorceress, while Watson is a buttoned up refugee from a terrifyingly puritanical country, and a large part of the fun is how he attempts to narrate a story of wild sex, appalling behaviour and a lot of swearing without actually putting any such shocking material on paper. It's very meta, as Wyndham comments on the goings-on from a distance of twenty years; I particularly liked his argument with his editor about whether it's possible to have a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter when he is writing this now which clearly means he isn't going to die.

    It's bursting with invention, horrors, good jokes, and bonkers characters. Also, fantastically queer throughout. Wyndham is a gay trans man and there's some lovely hints of a future romance that I really want to read, Shaharazad is pansexual (and that's probably understating the matter), their client is hoping to save her forthcoming marriage to a woman despite a chequered history.

    It's not a complete Holmes analogue (though there are lots of satisfying little riffs), more using the odd couple as a jumping off point, as the detective here works more by elimination than any great deductive powers. This is fine with me, as if I want to read about amazing deductive powers, there is actual Sherlock Holmes. The mystery here is far more an excuse to roam around a fantastic world with fantastic characters. I can't say this bothered me in the slightest: the book could have been twice as long with my goodwill.

    Intensely readable and brilliant fun. I really hope there will be more of these.

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