"It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent."-goodreads
Confession: I have not yet read the Sherlock Holmes tales completely. I've wanted to, but I haven't. Upon finishing this clever novel, my interest has been renewed-- I hope to do so soon! This novel, and Sherlock himself, were very good. If I had to compare it to something I'd say Alex Rider. (Getting himself into messes, playing the hero, all that.) Except, you know, it's 1868! Death Cloud is definitely a true mystery book; which I wouldn't say is something I've read a lot of in YA. Although I could probably call Uncommon Criminals a mystery!
I liked the setting of this book. The areas of England (and everywhere else Sherlock ends up, you'll see) that it takes place in are described really well, a clear picture was painted in my head. I liked Sherlock a lot, along with Matty, Virginia, and Mr. Crowe. A strength for the characters in this novel is that each of the side characters had a back story without it feeling like too much, like they were the main character all of a sudden, which seems to happen quite a bit if you know the other characters too well... Sherlock was really likable, and I think his biggest strength was that while clever, witty, and quick to react, he didn't seem perfect, and the whole mystery didn't seem completely easy for him to solve.
The pace was slightly slow at times, and I noticed some inconsistencies sometimes... for example, I recall in one paragraph, I think it was Virginia, was sitting down, got up, and was fighting someone and then all of a sudden she was sitting next to Sherlock again; which I didn't really get. Other than those though, I can't really think of any problems! A very good book overall; it paints an awesome portrait of teenage Sherlock Holmes! I'd definitely recommend this as a pre-read to the complete Sherlock Holmes as if you haven't already read it, it will inspire you too; and surely a must for anyone who has enjoyed those stories. I'm very excited for the sequel coming this fall!