Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Reads: ARC Review of A Study In Silks by Emma Jane Holloway!!

This week's Friday Reads starts with the first book of a series that mix a number of genres and does so in a fantastic way!

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair, #1)A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Study in Silks is the first book in a trilogy (maybe series?) about Sherlock Holmes' niece Evelina. I was lucky enough to get an ARC for review on NetGalley of all the books so far in exchange for an honest opinion.

These books are a quite difficult to describe since they mix magic with murder mysteries, clockwork and steampunk, historical period and romance... but done so well! I'm still surprised how seamlessly all the different elements on this novel combine and work together, fitting perfectly like pieces of a puzzle!

Evelina is Sherlock Holmes niece, her mother was Sherlock's and Mycroft's sister but she married under her station so her family renounced her. Her father was one of the Coopers, famous part of a circus troupe and once the Holmes closed the door to them, the circus was their only option. Evelina grew there, with her mother's stories of another world till both her parents died and her Holmes grandmother decided to claim her and sent her to a school for ladies where she met Imogen Roth, daughter of a family well off and part of Society. Evelina is part of two very different worlds and doesn't feel entirely whole in either of them.

The story starts in a London in the 19th century that is not exactly historical but has quite a bit of Steampunk in it, with its clockwork machines and its Steam barons that have the monopoly of everything to do with technology in the Empire of Queen Victoria.Magic is forbidden in this world and those who have the Blood know better than to reveal their abilities.

Evelina is staying with Imogen's family in their London home when one of the maids is murdered in very suspicious circumstances, so Evelina decides to start investigating to try and solve the crime quickly to avoid too much attention from the police or her own uncle that could undermine the Roth family's reputation. But there's so much more at stake than just a maid's death.

This book is full of plots, politics, magic and even though it doesn't have any big twists you discover the clues and piece together the full picture more or less at the same time that Evelina does, so my interest was always enganged. It is told from different POVs, changing with the chapters and though sometimes it seemed a bit of an odd shift it's never difficult to follow the change cause the characters all have distinctive voices.

Evelina is a great character, she's headstrong and kind, aware of the rules she has to follow as part of the London Society but continues to bend them here and there to be who she thinks she must be. She doesn't only want to enjoy some dances and pretty dresses, but she also has a head for details and observation (rather like her uncle Sherlock) and wants to enroll in a college for ladies. She's also good at tinkering with clockwork and has magic in her blood. In more than one occasion she ends up biting more than she can chew, but one way or another she always tries to do what's right and it's very loyal to her friends and family.

There is a love triangle in this story and quite surprisingly for me, it does make sense, it does add to the story and it is done in a believable fashion. Each one of the guys is from one of the worlds that Evelina is part of: Tobias is Imogen's brother and an absolute rake, handsome but disolute. Nick is of unknown origin and parentage, has also Blood magic and was part of the circus troupe that Evelina grew in and both were inseparable as children and that grew into something more as they did. Both of them make Evelina lose her cool head at times, but she knows that neither of them can be part of her future. Nick because of a strange connection of their magics and Tobias because of family honour and Society proprietness.

It was a bit of a slow read sometimes at first, but once all characters are connected and all dots seem to be getting connected to form a picture I couldn't get through the pages fast enough! There is quite a bit of heartbreak for Evelina and I was very grateful that I had the ARC of the next book already in my Kindle app once I finished this one!

Very original take on Victorian steampunk historical fiction with a good dash of murder mystery Sherlock Holmes style. Well deserved 4 stars.

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  1. I actually haven't gotten into many steam punk books before but this one sounds amazing! I saw it on Netgalley and was wondering about it. Great review Pili, the combination of politics, magic and twists sounds like a great one.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. Thanks Jeann! It was quite a pleasant surprise!

  2. Oh this sounds cool! Steampunk can be a hit or miss for me but I love that it's the story of Sherlock Holme's niece! Plus a London setting is always cool and if written well can make all the difference I find. Great review, Pili! A book doesn't need to be full of twists all the time I like the kinds of mysteries that slowly paints a big picture!

    1. Thanks Giselle! Steampunk is also hit or miss with me, but this one was such a combination of things that worked so unexpectedly well!

  3. That sounds quite interesting to me. Seems to be book for me.
    Have a lovely weekend!

    1. Do let me know if you give it a try, Renata! Thank you!


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