Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes

Reviewed: May 12, 2010
By: edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Publisher: Edge S.F. and Fantasy Publishing
311 pages, $19.95

One of the things that everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes after reading “The Sussex Vampire” is that the man doesn’t believe in the supernatural. That’s built into the canon.

Once you have that established, I would have thought there were a limited number of options for creating a book of stories in which Holmes meets the supernatural. You can assume that he remains abnormally thick in the face of mounting evidence and that Watson will have to solve this case. You can say that he learned to moderate his views on the subject during the time that Holmesian scholars maintain he travelled to Tibet. You can apply one of his favorite dictums, the one about how once you have eliminated all other explanations, the one that remains, however improbable, must be the answer.

The authors who were assembled to write the stories in this volume do use all of those possibilities, and a few more that had not occurred to me.

This was a book that worked best for me read in bits. The original stories by Conan Doyle tended to bounce around in terms of type and genre. The difficulty with the theme anthologies is that the stories are all of one type and the variety is missing. That said, the book was still fun and most of the stories were worthy pastiches.

Edge S.F. and Fantasy Publishing is a Canadian publishing venture out of Calgary.