Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing my review of The Last of August, the second book in the Charlotte Holmes series. You can read my review of book one, A Study in Charlotte, here.
TW: Discussion of rape, discussion of drug use, guns
Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.
Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.
A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.
Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.
What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.
The first thing to say is that the writing is stunning. The energy and emotion was rolling off the pages, and was enough to have me laugh and crying at different points. It was painful and beautiful, and oh so special. Brittany Cavallaro has a real skill, and it lends itself perfect to the artistic souls she is writing about.
One of the things that hit me very hard with this book as a sexual assault survivor is the way the impact of Charlotte’s rape effects her. At one point she tells Jamie, “I want to hit everything all the time”. I cried a little at reading that, because I know that anger, and rage, and desperation, all rolled into one. In this book, we have a couple of chapters from Charlotte’s perspective, and her pain is brutally evident, as is her frustation at herself, feeling… well, everything. She feels so deeply she doesn’t know how to contain it. I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug her, if she would let me.
August is a curious character, but I’m afraid he fell a bit short for me. The whole book played on the “is he a good guy? is he a bad guy?” aspect of him, but I was never 100% sure where it was going, and it didn’t lean far enough in either direction. It also didn’t manage to lend to him being morally grey. He was just a bit watery, for fear of sounding brutal, and I’m still not sure what I think of him now the book is finished.
Adding to that, most of this book had me completely rapt, but the last few chapters fell short. It seemed very abrupt, yet not a cliffhanger. It was just a bit odd. I have book three, and I can’t decide whether I want to jump right into it, or give myself a long break. It’s a curious way to feel after finishing a book I mostly enjoyed.
That said, it was certainly interesting. We see glimpses of all three key family groups: Watson, Holmes and Moriarty, all grouped together forever, whether they would like it or not. We hear several times that Charlotte and August had similar upbringings, neither of which seem to have been healthy. And then there’s Jamie, stuck in the middle, and trying to work out where he stands.
If you’re looking for angst, confusion, action and beautiful writing, this book absolutely has you covered.
Thanks for stopping by today for my thoughts on this book. New posts go up every day, so if you would like some bookish content in your life every morning, you know where I am!