A book about a teenage Sherlock Holmes should be entertaining, clever, interesting and witty but unfortunately none of those adjectives describe this book. I had many issues with Death Cloud but the biggest one was that I don't think a teenage Sherlock Holmes would have been anything like the one that Lane portrays. It really bothered me. Lane's Sherlock Holmes is just far too nice and "normal". Where's the biting wit? The arrogance? The eccentricity? The love of adventure? And even the razor-sharp intelligence and detective skills? If anything the Sherlock Holmes of this book seemed like a blank canvas who will eventually get turned into the great detective that we all know and love by his mentor Amycus Crowe. And I had a huge problem with this. I hate the idea of him learning all of his skills and personality traits from another person! Sherlock Holmes's skills should be completely inherent and unique. Okay I suppose that ACD's Sherlock Holmes would have picked up habits as he got older and honed his skills but the very essence of his character should have been present at birth. In my mind ACD's teenage Sherlock Holmes would be less like the Sherlock Holmes of this book and much more similar to Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: arrogant, sarcastic, charismatic, extremely intelligent and desperate to gain adventures and knowledge.
I had a big problem with the romantic subplot in this book. Although Sherlock doesn't fall in love with Virginia in this book it's quite clear that he finds her attractive - he daydreams about her face and hair - and that this will be developed further in the sequels. No! I'm sick and tired of adaptations giving Sherlock Holmes love-interests! I'm completely against the idea that Sherlock Holmes was in love with Irene Adler or that he was secretly gay. Sherlock Holmes just isn't interested in sex and sexuality in the ACD stories and, like many Holmesians, I'm firmly convinced that his character is an asexual. Sherlock Holmes is a bit of an icon to the asexual community.
The plot of this book isn't too great either. The book does start off fairly well but the mystery isn't terribly engaging and there are too many unanswered questions. What was going on with Mrs Eglantine? Why is she no friend to the Holmes family? Was she working alongside the villain the whole time or was her character only there to lurk about in the shadows and act as a Mrs Danvers ripoff? Oh, and the villain's henchmen get some very cheesy and unintentionally amusing lines in this book too like "Prepare to meet your maker!" They made me laugh but I don't think I was supposed to!
This is probably sounding like a really scathing review but honestly Death Cloud isn't that bad. I can imagine children enjoying it and even with all of its faults it's still far, far better than the only other Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel that I've read: a Sherlock Holmes/The Phantom of the Opera crossover called The Angel of the Opera. Some of the secondary characters in Death Cloud are actually quite likeable. Matty is quite sweet and I liked Amycus Crowe as a character although I hate the idea of him being the mentor in all of the things that make Sherlock Holmes who he is.
To be honest I only decided to read this book because I thought it would help to keep me occupied in the wait for series three of Sherlock. Since it's New Years's Day I don't have much longer to wait! :D