Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell – Book Review

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I consider myself a pretty big Hellraiser fan. I own all the movies (yes, even Revelations on Blu-ray) and I own several books, comics, action figures and a few Lament Configuration replicas. I absolutely love Hellraiser, plain and simple. Hellraiser hasn’t been doing too bad lately. We have a comic series from BOOM! Studios, Gary J. Tunnicliffe is currently working on a new Hellraiser movie, Hellraiser: Judgment and Hellraiser creator Clive Barker finally finished his destruction of Pinhead in The Scarlet Gospels, which in my opinion, was a big disappointment. On what would normally be a completely unrelated note, Sherlock Holmes has also never been more popular than it is today, with a couple TV shows and a movie series. It seems Holmes is a detective that won’t quit. You wouldn’t think to say that it’s only inevitable that the two franchises would meet, but after reading Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell; I feel like it was always meant to be. Author Paul Kane has crafted a Hellraiser story that I’ve been longing for since I turned the last page on the short story collection Hellbound Hearts, which Paul Kane also happened to edit.

Paul Kane is the go-to guy for Hellraiser, after having released the aforementioned Hellbound Hearts and the fantastic The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy, which details all the movies, not just the popular ones. Who better to place the Hellraiser mythologies in Sherlock Holmes’ world.  And not only does he masterfully mix the two, he also brings together the Hellraiser films, the comics, the Hellbound Hearts short stories and, in what can only be described as a miracle, he is able to connect The Scarlet Gospels world to the Hellraiser world we love.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell begins with Dr. Watson writing in his secret journal about a case which defied logic. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson came upon a case of mysterious disappearances, starting with the disappearance of Francis Cotton (the first of many nods to characters and events throughout the entire catalogue of Hellraiser). Holmes and Watson slowly start unraveling the mystery behind everything, which always points to a mysterious puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration. The adventure has the duo investigating plenty of interesting places, such as a seedy S&M Nightclub, the Malahide Institute in France and a certain place that will seem very familiar to Hellbound: Hellraiser II fans. Everything that is happening is leading up to an epic showdown between Holmes and the Order of the Gash, also known as the Cenobites!

There is way more to the story than that little summary above, but there is no way in hell (sorry for the pun) that I will ruin this fantastic tale for anyone.

As I’ve already mentioned, I know Hellraiser, so colour me surprised when Paul Kane managed to expand the universe even more than what I thought was possible. While I was reading the book, I kept thinking about the old Epic Comics run of Hellraiser stories that showed us a Hell that was more than just a twisted path of hallways and pillars. I’m thinking Paul Kane was a big fan of that comic series, as he expands the home of the Cenobites in a similar way.

Okay, I’ve been gushing over the ties to Hellraiser, but what about Sherlock fans. Are they going to be able to jump into this story? The answer to that is a resounding yes! You don’t need to be a Hellraiser fanatic to enjoy a good adventure. Paul Kane throws in numerous nodes and references to Holmes’ past cases, managing to tie in the infamous Reichenbach Falls and many of the other cases that came after Holmes’ apparent “death”. Did you ever feel like Holmes was a completely different man after he came back to life? Well, fret not, as that is all explained.

Do I have any complaints about the book? Well, the second half felt a bit rushed to be perfectly honest. I would have a loved to see the story stretched out a bit more. Maybe stretch out the first half as well. (Honestly, it’s hardly a complaint when I want a book to be longer!) The only other thing that kept nagging me was where exactly does Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell fall into in the context of the Hellraiser series? Is it a prequel to The Hellbound Heart or is it part of the movie series? The book does have a few sequences that gives us glimpses of things to come that happened in the movies, but it also tries to distance itself a bit from them and make it its own beast. I do love that it tries to connect everything like I mentioned before, but sometimes having a clearer picture of where it stands in relation to the series is a nice thing to know.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is going to please both Hellraiser and Sherlock fans alike. I’m sure there will be a few people out there that are not going to be impressed with the fantastical and horrific horror story that is told here. However, as long as you know what you are getting into, you’re going to love it. Paul Kane, please give us more Hellraiser. You’re really damn good at it!

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Shannon Tatlock

You can certainly tell that you liked the book and I can vouch that you never put it down. Looks like two things came together that you love, now you need a James Bond and Hellraiser story!

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