It’s over a decade since I wrote teacher resources for Hodder Education about Anthony Horowitz’s children’s book Raven’s Gate and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read him again. Today I’m delighted to be putting that right by reviewing The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes story, chosen for this month’s read at my U3A Book Group.
Published by Orion in September 2014, The House of Silk is available for purchase through the publisher links here.
The House of Silk
THE GAME’S AFOOT . . .
It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.
Intrigued, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious ‘House of Silk’ . . .
My Review of The House of Silk
Dr Watson has one more Sherlock Holmes story to tell.
The House of Silk is as accomplished and skilful a narrative as might be expected from Anthony Horowitz. The style is a marvellous blend of authentic Holmes and modern freshness so that I thoroughly enjoyed every word. There’s a tautness to the writing that means not a word is wasted but that character and setting are adroitly conveyed. I could hear Watson’s narrative voice distinctly and convincingly. Holmes too, is clear and perfectly described, especially through his speech.
I loved the way Anthony Horowitz makes allusion to the original stories and includes familiar figures like Mrs Hudson in the background so that there are familiar hooks to draw in the reader, but at the same time, these references do not over dominate and any reader not familiar with them can enjoy The House of Silk as a cracking period thriller in its own right. Indeed, the settings are atmospheric and visual so that I could picture where the action was taking place perfectly.
I thought the plot of The House of Silk was incredibly well constructed. The themes of modern society, which I can’t fully explain as they would spoil the read for others, are presented in a manner I actually found quite shocking, but completely in tune with Holmes’ era too. Each element of the story, however disparate it might at first appear, is resolved so dexterously that I finished the read with an enormous sense of satisfaction.
I’ve always enjoyed the original Sherlock Holmes stories, but The House of Silk has given them a new depth and insight for me as a reader. I genuinely believe The House of Silk is a perfect addition to the Holmes canon and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is one of the UK’s most prolific and successful writers. His novels The House of Silk and Moriarty were Sunday Times Top 10 bestsellers and sold in more than thirty-five countries around the world. His bestselling Alex Rider series for children has sold more than nineteen million copies worldwide. He is also the author of a James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. As a TV screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War; other TV work includes Poirot, the widely-acclaimed mini-series Collision and Injustice and most recently, New Blood for the BBC. Anthony sits on the board of the Old Vic and regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines. In January 2014 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature. Anthony Horowitz lives in London.