Thursday, August 29, 2013

ARC Review: A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks
Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Publication: Del Rey (September 24, 2013)

Description: Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.
In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?
But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.

My Thoughts: This alternate history/steampunk story takes place in Victorian England. Evelina Cooper is the niece of Sherlock Holmes but she is also a young woman with ties to two worlds. Her father's world was that of the circus while her mother was of the gentry. Both parents passed away when Evelina was young leaving her to grow up in the circus with her Gran Cooper until she was removed to the home of her other grandmother who was determined to turn her into a lady.

Evelina is spending her debut season with the family of her best friend Imogen Bancroft who is the daughter of former diplomat Lord Bancroft. She is eager to take part in the events that young society ladies attend. But things quickly become complicated when she finds the corpse of one of the housemaids and gets involved in the investigation of her murder. 

The plot is filled with all sorts of twists and turns and it is filled with wonderful steampunk details. Evelina has magic. The steam barons who control London have made the possession of magic both unpopular and dangerous. Evelina is also very interested in making mechanical devices which is something else the steam barons do not want people to do. She has made an interesting bird and mouse who are spying for her as she works on the case of the murdered housemaid. 

The plot also has romance as Evelina is torn between Nick who was a childhood friend and love and Tobias who is the brother of her best friend Imogen. One of the reasons she left Nick was because they both had magic that played off each other and neither could hide it. It was a case of Evelina leaving the circus or Nick leaving. She never told Nick that she left partially to keep him in the only home he had ever known. When they meet again as adults, Nick wants to love her and protect her but the same reasons that separated them years ago along with their very different social positions make it impossible for Evelina. On the other hand, Tobias is also outside her social class. It doesn't help that Lord Bancroft is encouraging his son to seduce Evelina to distract her from her investigations. She has had a crush on Tobias ever since she met him but she knows that he isn't good for her. 

The mystery was well-done. I liked that each character seemed to have a separate part of the puzzle. We could see all the pieces but it took quite a while for all the pieces to come together for Evelina and her uncle Sherlock.

This is the first of three books featuring Evelina Cooper. I know that I will be eager to read A STUDY IN DARKNESS in October and A STUDY IN ASHES in November. 

Favorite Quote:
"Pessimism is the basis of all sound expectations. If you foresee nothing good, no outrage can shock you."

Evelina choked back a laugh. "I pity your future husband."

"Only if he can't keep up—which is a depressing likelihood. I suspect there's a factory in Yorkshire turning out insipid young men by the box load, and they're all clamoring to be on my dance card."
I got this ARC through the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here. 

1 comment:

  1. Ooh nice review!! Was very curious about this one but didn't request it on Netgalley since I wanted to read reviews first. Looks like I might be adding it to the TBR mountain!


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