Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death by Justin Carroll #GuestPost #BlogTour

Ten doors down from the home of a world famous ‘consulting detective’ lives twelve-year-old Hemlock Jones, and her recently arrived housemate and unwitting companion, Edward Whitlow. Hired to ‘demystify’ the mystery of a man's murder by a terrifying angelic spectre, Hemlock and Edward’s investigations will lead them all over Victorian London, uncovering bizarre and deadly foes, figures from Hemlock’s hidden past, and a plot to take over the city...

Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death is the first of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, a series of detective adventures for children and adults, set in Victorian London.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death today. Many thanks to Justin Carroll and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.
I read Hemlock's story to my daughter, Maggie last year. We both thoroughly enjoyed this clever, exciting and witty tale - you can read our reviews here. Maggie loved it so much she included it in her Top 5 Reads of 2017 post.

Hemlock Jones lives in Baker Street and so has Sherlock Holmes as a neighbour but it's not just Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was influenced by the great capital city; in his guest post today, Justin Carroll writes about why he set Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death in Victorian London and how the richness of the city has long been a source of inspiration for authors.

Victorian London – The Perfect Era for Demystification

I set “Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death” in Victorian London for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I wanted Hemlock to be Sherlock Holmes’ contemporary. That (one-sided) rivalry offers a lot of potential fun, as well as offering an interesting side to Hemlock.
However, there’s another reason, which takes a little longer to explain.
Victorian London is amazing. I mean, it wasn’t amazing for the majority of people trying desperately to survive in an over-crowded, unsanitary city in the new, industrial era. The city was a squalid, smoke-laden place, where hunger, poverty and disease were constant bedfellows.
But, Victorian London was also a place where doctors and scientists sought to unravel the mysteries of the human body and mind, where mystics, gypsies and religious zealots gathered to espouse new religions and strange dark practices.
This melting pot of rich and poor, old and new, this lawless metropolis, the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper and an occult renaissance, was also the birthplace of the police, of social consciousness, of philanthropy in numerous modern forms. The dawn of a new age of scientific discovery through the telephone, the gramophone, electricity, biology, physics, chemistry... the list goes on.
It’s no surprise, then, that this incredibly diverse city, a gateway between old and new worlds, has been such a rich source of inspiration for writers, then and now. That the nineteenth century was an age of invention, exploration and discovery allowed writers and artists to push the boundaries of their imaginations, giving us iconic works, seminal moments – Gothic horror, the world’s greatest detective, even the heroes of Dickensian London, seem to grow out of, and flow and merge into, the far harsher reality of London life.
For me, the Victorian setting offers unique opportunities to play with science, the occult, historical events and occurrences, and weave in fiction that has entered modern consciousness and myth: Jack the Ripper, Jekyll and Hyde, Dracula. And of course, a very important seam throughout Hemlock’s first adventure, “Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death”: Steampunk, the perfect merging of Victorian reality and fantasy. For example, in “…The Angel of Death”, Tesla’s Coil could be used to power Frankenstein’s Machine.
What does that mean for Hemlock? Well, it means that the world’s only demystifier has countless mysteries to unravel, and mysteries that can stray into the surreal, unreal or near-real. That’s one of the amazing things about writing for older children: The line is blurred. Steam powers trains, and can power machines generally, so why not have that same steam powering cogs and wheels that make bodies move? Corpse robbers stole bodies for experiments, while the undead stalked London searching for blood to drink. Science was leaping forward, allowing a doctor to create potions that would change him into a murderous, immoral beast with the Hyde of a man. 
All of these strange and wondrous things are food for new adventures. Indeed, even the tales of Holmes himself offer an opportunity for the ‘true tale of demystification’ to be told…

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this fascinating post, Justin. As an age of innovation and experimentation, the Victorian era really does provide rich pickings for the imagination, and of course London is almost a character in itself.

Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death is one of the most memorable books I've shared with Maggie and can be purchased here - we both highly recommend it!

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Ever since he stopped wanting to be a dinosaur, Justin Carroll wanted to be a writer. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language from King's College, London in 2004 and now, in between writing and moonlighting in marketing for a multinational financial services company, he fritters away his time on all manner of geeky things. Shortlisted for several international short story competitions, Justin was a finalist in the 2010 British Fantasy Awards.

Website - http://www.justin-carroll.com/
Twitter - @WriterJustinC


  1. Thanks for the Blog Tour Support Karen x

  2. Thank you SO much for hosting me, and for reading Hemlock. I'm delighted you (and Maggie) enjoyed it!

    1. You're very welcome, we're both looking forward to Hemlock's next adventure!


Post a Comment