Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell has a concept so bizarre you wouldn’t think it could possibly work. What if Holmes, world’s greatest detective, faced off against Clive Barker’s Cenobites. It’s an unlikely pairing and it probably shouldn’t even exist, but now that I’ve seen the results, I’m very grateful for it.
Crossovers, in general, are incredibly tricky. They only work if someone is intimately aware of both worlds. Usually, they lean in one direction more heavily than the other. Paul Kane makes his knowledge of Holmes clear within the first few pages of Watson’s narration and his knowledge of the Hellraiser universe needs no introduction as he has previously written the fantastic Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and edited the short story collection Hellbound Hearts.
Because of Kane’s expertise with both subjects, the two worlds are perfectly balanced. While Holmes and Watson are the major protagonists, the story is entrenched within the Hellraiser mythology. There are references to not only major characters from Clive Barker’s original novel and film, but to every single movie in the franchise.
There are Cenobites that appear in this book that have only previously been depicted in the Hellbound Hearts anthology. Even a Cenobite that was created by Gary Tunnicliffe but cut out of Hellraiser: Deader makes an appearance, that’s how deep the references go.
The novel feels somewhere between a prequel to the Hellraiser world as we know it and a Victorian reimagining of the entire mythology. We’re introduced to the Cotton family right off the bat, but the circumstances are very similar to what will happen to that family later on.
It’s fun to go through the book and see characters who are clearly precursors to characters we’ll meet later on down the line, and then there are some with connections that turn out to be quite surprising. Of course, I don’t want to spoil exactly who you might see or in what capacity, you’ll have to read the book yourself for that. I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed with the results.
My favorite thing about the book and the number one reason it works so well is that Kane made a genius move in picking the perfect time for the box to come into Sherlock’s life. This book picks up right after Holmes has returned from his supposed death in “The Final Solution.” He had closure, Moriarty is dead, and now he’s in a state of feeling like he has no more surprises left. He believes he’ll never be challenged again, at least not in the way he was when facing off against his great nemesis.
But things are rarely what they seem and there are many surprises in store for both Holmes and the reader as well.
If you’re a fan of Holmes and Hellraiser I definitely suggest checking this book out. Even if you’re just a fan of Barker’s mythology, I’d suggest picking this book up because there are a lot of neat moments and references for Hellraiser fans and who knows, it might make you a fan of Holmes at the same time.
WICKED RATING: 8/10