Cover Image: Castle Shade

Castle Shade

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Member Reviews

This book continues the story line of Mary Russell Holmes and her husband Sherlock Holmes, as a spinoff from the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories. In this latest edition, Mary assists her husband as they investigate mysterious happenings in Europe, reminiscent of the famous Dracula scenes of Bram Stoker. The author skillfully weaves elements of folklore and mythology into this latest installment in the series.

Creepy and intriguing, this is a perfect read for a dark and stormy night. Readers who are familiar with the series will enjoy this latest addition, although it can be read as a stand alone.

I received this novel from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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another wonderful book by Ms. King, I always enjoy reading books by Ms, King. The story was well done and the characters were great.
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Queen Marie of Roumania, much loved by her people and instrumental in getting lost lands returned to her adopted country at the Paris Peace Conferences has contacted Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes about strange occurrences at her favorite castle, Bran.  Could vampires be behind the disappearances of  young girls from the castle and is Queen Marie somehow involved?
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I really like this series and this installment was very good. The atmospheric writing and attention to detail bring the reader right into the story.  With amazement we see Sherlock pick up on random clues.  
Many thanks to Random House Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The teenage girl, Mary Russell, who burst on the scene in Laurie King's "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," is now a mature woman, still married to Sherlock Holmes and still accompanying him on adventures. 

"Castle Shade" is the summer home of Queen Marie of Romania, herself a fascinating woman of the early Twentieth Century. Holmes is investigating a series of events that may or may not indicate danger to the Queen and her young daughter. Russell, left on her own while Holmes goes off to follow through on information sent by diplomatic mail from his brother, Chief British spy, Mycroft. She emerges as a woman who has learned Holmes' lessons well and who is unafraid of the unknown. 

King is a masterful writer and plotter. In this case, a convoluted plot including ghosts, deserters, a coroner, a queen and a red motorcycle. An interesting romp; but, a light one for fans of Russell and King.
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Definitely a interesting and engaging storyline with great characters. I did not know it was part of a series and feel overall if enjoy it more of I read them in order. With that said I still enjoyed it! If you love historical reads, mystery,and suspense filled novels I would recommend this.
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CASTLE SHADE by Laurie R. King is the latest in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series (beginning with Beekeeper's Apprentice through last year's Riviera Gold). This time the duo are off to Transylvania and the suspense, complete with local superstition and folklore, mounts. After all, "there's nothing like a long winter with a forest outside to stir the imagination." Their client is the Queen of Roumania (yes, an actual historical figure) whose daughter, Ileana is threatened. Russell and Holmes alternate as chapter narrators, moving the story along as they visit Castle Bran and meet the servants and townspeople. Suspicious happenings (scary fall, bloody injury) gradually escalate to evening attacks and chloroformed kidnappings. King cleverly conveys a sense of menace with plenty of action and many references to real life characters. I enjoyed the mystery and often found myself taking a tangent to learn more about the royal family and others, like the nobleman Barbu Stirbey, rumored to be Queen Marie's lover.  CASTLE SHADE received a starred review from Library Journal.  Enjoy!
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I have been reading this series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell ever since the first book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was published in 1994! This is entry number seventeen. Ms. King continues to keep this long running series interesting and engaging.

When this book opens, Russell and Holmes are getting ready to travel to Roumania. The daughter of Maria of Roumania is under threat. Why? Is it to do with her or with someone wanting to get at Marie. Marie is herself connected by blood to Queen Victoria; she is related to both her and the Russian Tsar. Readers learn about Marie’s history, dynastic marriage and move to Roumania. They learn, too, about the decisions that she has made for her country and her devotion to a place that she has come to love.

Along the way, readers also learn about Dracula and the many legends and superstitions that existed at the time. This is all quite fascinating.

When Holmes and Russell get to Roumania, their work intensifies. There are many strange occurrences along the way. There are also welcome creature comforts that Mary had not been expecting.

I enjoyed the setting of this novel and the rich history that was presented. I also liked following Russell and Holmes as they talked, sparred and worked together.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.
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Mary Russell is the right hand of one Sherlock Holmes, but she is definitely not excited about their most recent travel arrangements. Bound for Roumania, the two are to assist Queen Marie, the royal granddaughter of Queen Victoria, as well as that of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.  At the infamous Bran Castle, the two need to find a way to clear the name of both Queen Marie and her daughter before the strigoi, or vampires, ruin their names.

Castle Shade is a fun read for lovers of Sherlock Holmes and vampire tales. Author Lori R. King creates a wonderful character in Mary Russell. She seems to respond the way most would in her situation, though her loyalty keeps her in the middle of the mystery.

Castle Shade is now available from Random House.
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The review of Castle Shade by Laurie R. King is in the August 2021 issue of Gumshoe Review and is exclusive to them until September 1, 2021.

You may read the review using this link:
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

I have read many of the books in Laurie R. King’s wonderful series of pastiches about Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. The events in Castle Shade revolve around Queen Marie of Romania, who was instrumental in enlarging her country to include Transylvania. There are rumors of vampires at Castle Bran, Queen Marie’s “hideaway” in Transylvania. Obviously, to Holmes and Russell, the culprit in these activities must be mortal. King has researched this book well and integrates the story perfectly with the background of the Queen, the historic era, and the area.
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I've adored the Mary Russell books since I stumbled across 'The Beekeepers Apprentice" many years ago at the library. I've purchased every volume as soon as it is published but have unfortunately not read past "Justice Hall" I believe because of well, life....

Was overjoyed when my request to view 'Castle Shade' was granted and leapt right in.

Surprisingly for the amount of books published Mary and Sherlock have only been married 4-/2 years when Castle Shade takes place. Otherwise everything that I loved about the earlier books are still evident in this later story. I'm going to have to go back and catch up now!

Castle Shade is in fact, Castle Bran in Roumania. Otherwise known today as Dracula's Castle. Yes, 'that' Dracula. 
Sherlock has been called in by Queen Marie because of a threat she has received to her daughter Isabella.

Upon entering Castle Bran they are swept up in a whirlwind of political intrigue courtesy of Mycroft and also the uncanny happenings in the village surrounding Bran. Are these occurences actually supernatural in origin or is someone attempting to use native superstitions to set the villagers against their beloved foreign queen. 

I"m not going to spoil the story. Just read it yourself and enjoy!
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I just LOVE the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King! Mary Russell is so intelligent and clever, along with being quite plucky, and she gives her husband Sherlock Holmes a run for his money in terms of intellect. The mysteries are always well-plotted but I delight in these books primarily due to the unique and wonderful voice of Mary Russell. If you enjoy women sleuths and/or Sherlock Holmes, do check this series out! Each one is a stand-alone.

I should add that I think Laurie R. King captures Sherlock Holmes better than any other interpreter outside of Sir C-D himself!

Thanks to NG and the publisher for my copy!
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This is my first book in this series. I love anything related to Sherlock Holmes, and I have written an entire novel that's a revisionist version of Dracula (DRACULA, MY LOVE), so I couldn't resist checking out this novel. The plot: A villain is working hard to turn the residents of Bran against the Queen of Romania. Can Mary and Holmes prevent this from happening? The novel includes some classic horror tropes, post-WWI European politics, worries about vampires, and disappearing young women. I loved the read and the ride -- it was a good mystery and I enjoyed my introduction (however belated) to this team of detectives.
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This is the 14th installment of Laurie R. King's "Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes" series. These are all complex  mysteries that cause your brain to hurt and this one is the same. You can get lost very easily in the excessive detail and complicated plots. 

I read as both an audio book and e-book. This installment held my interest a little easier than previous books because the mystery involved vampires in Transylvania. I still had to re-read chapters many times because my brain wandered off during the audiobook. I think it's the lack of emotional attachment I have to these characters even after reading seven of these books. I just don't care what happens to them.  King is extensive with her historical research and explanation in this series. You will definitely learn something when you read these books. 

I would've loved some PDA from Mary and Sherlock but they are still very prudish (do they even like each other physically?) and their age difference is still pretty cringy (38? years!). They also come off as acting superior and looking down their noses at just about everyone which is off-putting. Mary is book smart, but has no common sense and always gets herself into dangerous situations that could be easily avoided.

If you are still loving this series after 14 books, you'll enjoy this one too. I have to see the characters in series have personal growth and evolve to stick with it and these two are stuck in a socially-awkward, romance-less rut.
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This is the only Mary Russell book I have not yet listened to (I've both read and listened to all the other ones at least twice), and although it took my brain some time to readjust, I really enjoyed this one. Perhaps it's because I've always been fascinated by the legends of Dracula, but I really enjoyed this one more than some of the most recent ones, partly because it felt more like the old Holmes/Russell partnership. There is definitely a shifting of perspectives from one to the other, although Russell's portions are written in first-person POV and Holmes' sections are written in third-person POV. This book continues on from their adventures in Monte Carlo and the Riviera (two previous books) and the situation in this book is alluded to in the last one. Queen Marie of Roumania is having some unusual things happening in Castle Bran (a gift to her from the residents) that potentially threaten her or her daughter. If it were just herself, she might not even bother, but her daughter seems to be in potential danger. I absolutely loved the feel of this book, with the history of the people and the country, and even the politics of the time were not annoying distractions. The castle sounded like something that would be fun to explore and the inclusion of some of the modern amenities in Russell's suite was rather fun to imagine. I loved the investigative parts they each did on their own as well as the parts they did together. Without revealing any spoilers, I loved the midnight ride at the ending! It was fun to imagine the entire scene up to and including the ending, haha! Overall, this one felt a lot more like the early adventures that I loved so much, except Mary and Sherlock know each other so much better! 

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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“Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may be only accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.” 

Unless it’s that certain time of year, where the ghouls and ghosts are celebrated, you probably won’t find fiction books thematically linked to the Dracula tale grouped together in a library or bookstore. Being a reader who loves a good theme and enjoys a well-written Dracula connected book, I would like to see such a grouping on a permanent basis. I adore different takes on the Dracula theme, but I am especially fascinated by those that are uniquely clever. Castle Shade by Laurie R. King is that. Mixing history, Queen Marie of Romania, with the atmosphere of Transylvania appeals to my love of history and legend combined, and the sleuthing of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes is a thrilling treat.

But, don’t imagine that Castle Shade is a vampire story; it’s not. However, it is very much about the folklore and myths surrounding that tale, how the local people are rather easily swayed to believe in the possibility of a darkness that seeks out the blood of young women. And, this story is set in Romania, with Castle Bran being the summer residence of Queen Marie and where Russell and Holmes are visiting. Readers of this series will remember that Holmes had traveled to Romania by himself when Russell was in Monte Carlo pursuing Mrs. Hudson. Now, Russell is accompanying Holmes back to the area of Romania known as Transylvania (I wonder how many people can read that name and not say it in their heads as Dracula pronounces it). They are there at the request of Queen Marie, beloved Queen of Romania and granddaughter to the iconic Queen Victoria of England. Queen Marie has received a threat that involves possible harm to her youngest daughter Ileana, a girl still in her teens. It is this, the danger to a young girl, that has Russell and Holmes eager to help find answers quickly. But, they must also be surreptitious in their mission, as the Queen wants to keep it quiet, so they are presented as architectural consultants in the ongoing work being done to Castle Bran. 

The threatening letter is one mysterious occurrence, but there are others, including rumors of witches and ghosts and lurking shadows. Something or someone is stirring the pot, so to speak, and they are doing so only when Queen Marie is in residence at the castle, thus hoping villagers will connect the dots to Her Highness. A quick solution is needed before the tide turns against Marie. Villagers in Brasov are already hanging garlic in their doorways. 

Russell and Holmes are at first leaning toward a political explanation to the troubling events, as Queen Marie has been an amazingly effective leader while her husband is in failing health. They think that there might be those wishing her to be a less popular and distracted Queen to push agendas of their own. The political angle also has Russell suspecting that Mycroft, Sherlock’s brother, is responsible for their involvement, something that does not sit well with Mary Russell. But, the welfare of the young princess is more important than Russells' grievances, and, as they investigate and uncover clues, the political culprit seems less likely and personal revenge more likely. 

As per usual, Russell and Holmes don’t waste any time getting right on the case. The two outfit themselves for stealth in their black clothing on the very night they arrive and go cautiously about the village, looking for the unusual to happen. And, happen it does, as the sharp eyes of the pair discover an attempt to poison someone’s chickens and the deliberate placement of a witch’s hex bag on a local's front doorway path. Undoing these attempts to stir up the locals puts Holmes and Russell in control of the narrative, but it will require constant vigilance to maintain that control. When the misdeeds take a new direction of harm to a person, the urgency increases to find the way through the darkness and save lives. Hold on to your hats because the chase gets wild and woolly, including a premature burial experience. 

There are several suspects considered by Russell and Holmes, and I was able to see a case for each of their guilt. But, I was surprised by the actual villain and the reason for wanting to drive Queen Marie away from Castle Bran. Laurie King does a good job of presenting red herrings while leading readers to the miscreant. I’m rather torn between thinking Russell showed great bravery and thinking she took some questionable risks. However, I am more convinced than ever that Mary Russell is a match indeed for the wily Sherlock Holmes. She is continuing to grow in her confidence, and Holmes is realizing that she is growing and their partnership and marriage is shifting. There will be issues to address in the near future. 

Atmospheric is a word that often gets thrown around in describing books set in the countryside of Transylvania, but it is so brilliantly accomplished by King in Castle Shade that it must be noted in my review. The author has such a beautiful command of words in her description of the area and its inhabitants in achieving the spectra of darkness looming over the luscious gardens of the Queen. It’s the atmosphere created that keeps readers on the edge of their seats and believing that anything is possible. 

I was delighted with the seventeenth book in the Russell and Holmes series. Castle Shade satisfied my love of historical connections in my fiction reading with the interspersing of Romanian history after WWI ended and the tale of how Queen Marie came to be Queen of Romania and an enormous asset to her adopted land. I’m always pleased when my fictional reading takes me to seek out more information about the real people and places in the story. And, as crime/mystery is my favorite genre of fiction, the cases that Russell and Holmes pursue continue to thrill me. I highly recommend Castle Shade, and I believe it can be read as a stand-alone, which is a great bonus. Laurie King is a true weaver of tales, who never lets a thread slip, and oh what fascinating threads they are.
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Courtesy of Netgalley, I received the ARC of Castle Shade by Laurie R.King, my first novel to read in the Mary Russell series. It was very easy to become familiar with the characters in this revision of Sherlock Holmes and his talented young wife, a strong sleuth in her own right. She travels to Roumania in 1925 to assist Holmes as he investigates a mystery surrounding Queen Marie and Bran Castle. Rich in historical references and geographic detail, this suspenseful and compelling mystery held my attention!
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I swear I had no idea what I was reading the entire time. I really tried, but I just couldn't understand what was going on! It wasn't very entertaining either. Maybe it's just me, but I'd have to give this one a NO. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.
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Another riveting romp featuring the "before her time" Mary Russell, wife to the famous Sherlock Holmes. This unique mystery is centered in a castle located in Transylvania. Queen Marie of Roumania was gifted the castle Bran and has set to restore it, to its former glory. Tall, stately, and mysterious, the castle fits well in the landscape. Queen Marie loves this castle, and visits quite often. Mysterious and terrifying happenings cause the queen to contact Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell to investigate a missing girl, ghosts and rumors of the undead. Do vampires truly exist? This may be the most daunting mission Holmes and his brilliant wife have ever been on. I highly recommend this story of intrigue and mystery. Happy reading! Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book for my reading pleasure.
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