The Initiation

Ridley Pearson

*I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins to review.*

I would recommend this book for ages 10 and up.



Our story begins when James and his younger sister, Moria, are unceremoniously sent off to boarding school at Baskerville Academy. It is not a fate either want or welcome—but generations of Moriarty men have graduated from Baskerville’s hallowed halls. And now so too must James. It’s at Baskerville where James is first paired with a rather unexpected roommate—Sherlock Holmes. The two don’t get along almost instantly, but when the school’s heirloom Bible goes missing and cryptic notes with disconcerting clues start finding their way into James’s hands, the two boys decide that they must work together to solve a mystery so fraught with peril, it will change both their lives forever!

It’s another seat-of-your-pants mystery from the bestselling author of Peter and the Starcatchers and The Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson. (Goodreads)

My Review:

I was so excited when I heard about this book. It was pitched to me as a Sherlock Holmes retelling with the main character being James Moriarty. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it. The story was told by Moria who is James’s younger sister. This was one of the negative points for me because there would be times when Moria wasn’t involved in a scene so the story would be told in third person. Then, there would be a chapter where out of nowhere the story was being written as if Moria was telling the story. I understand what the author was trying to do, but it ended up being confusing and it took away from the story.

I knew this was a middle grade book going into it but none the less I felt like the author was talking down to his audience. The problem wasn’t with the characters themselves but with the writing style. For me, most children’s books fall into one of two categories: The beautiful, almost lyrical book and the simple and easy book. It felt as if Ridley Pearson was afraid of confusing his readers, so he kept it as simple as possible.

When I read a book that is considered a retelling or an origin story I expect the characters to, at least somewhat, resemble those from the original story. Sherlock and James felt like they were their own unique people that Ridley had created with the names of two famous characters added on. It felt like the basic facts were there but not their personalities.

On a positive note, I really did enjoy the idea of The Initiation.  Rather than setting up for the plot of the original story, I liked that it focused on the progression of the characters relationship. It was also nice to see a retelling of a famous story that isn’t a fairytale.


Violence: 1/5                       Stars: 1.5/5

Romance: 1/5                     Pages: 384

Language: 0/5                   Buy Book Here: Amazon

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One thought on “The Initiation

  1. I like Ridley Pearson’s writings but didn’t realize he wrote children’s books. From your review, it sounds like he should stick to adult novels. It is refreshing, however, to see a candid review, telling it as you see it, and not necessarily what the author wants to hear. Good job Rachel.