The Downward Spiral by Ridley Pearson
Publication date October 10, 2017
James Moriarty hasn’t been the same since he enrolled at Baskerville Academy. During his first year, he was forced to room with the insufferable Sherlock Holmes, he grew distant from his younger sister, Moria, and then, horribly, his father died under mysterious circumstances.
Now with school back in session, James has become more isolated than ever. And for the first time in her life, Moria isn’t sure if her brother is on her side. The only person she can trust is Sherlock. Sherlock listens to Moria’s problems and tries to break through James’s wall. He is obsessed, maybe to an extreme, with finding the truth about their father’s death. But at least Sherlock cares, and that’s why Moria joins him on a quest that leads to a secret sect, a rare jewel, and a murder that may change everything. The search for the truth is darker than even they could have anticipated.
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review.
I had some mixed feelings about the first book in this series (see my review here) and my issues with that book continue on into this one. Still it is a good read and an interesting retelling of the Sherlock and Moriarty story.
Moira, James’s sister is still mostly telling the story, although there are times when James and occasionally Sherlock takes up the narrative. I like Moira, but I don’t always trust that she is telling the whole story. She also has a somewhat weird relationship with Sherlock that I can’t decide if I like or not. She also doesn’t appear to have any other friends that she can trust. Her relationship with James is definitely changing in this book and not for the better.
James takes center stage in this book, more so than the last. We see more of what he is thinking and what he is doing when he is not with Moira and Sherlock. It is interesting to see the development of his character. His thoughts fight against doing the wrong thing, but he still goes through with what the Scowerers (the bad secret society he was initiated into in the first book) tell him to do. I enjoyed watching him become friends with Alexandria Carlisle, a girl at their school. There is a great scene where the two of them go out sailing on a small boat, which was very well done. You don’t often see sailing is kid’s books, so it was nice to have that added. There is some attraction between them as they get closer, but it is not overly done.
Sherlock continues to be a conundrum for me in this series. We rarely ever see what he is doing when not with the others, nor do we get his perspective very often (ever?) Although he is very much like the original, smart and pays attention to everything, he isn’t as likable. He tends to irritate me. Although I do like how he looks out for both James and Moira and is always there to help them out.
I still have issues with the plot, it just doesn’t flow smoothly. At times I kept thinking that I missed something, so I would go back a page or two, but couldn’t find anything. The dialog also is a little stilted and the kids at times sound older than they are (especially Sherlock). But the overall plot is good, lots of twists and unexpected things happening that keep you moving along. It does drag at times, and they still don’t seem any closer to solving the death of their father than they were in the first book. I don’t know for sure how many books are planned, I think three, but I hope that this plot point at least is resolved in the next book.
Definitely a book for older Tweens and Teens who are interested in a different take on the Sherlock and Moriarty story.