Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Review: A Study in Silks

Title: A Study in Silks
Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Series: The Baskerville Affair #1
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: I received an ecopy in exchange for a honest review.

Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?

This book really should have been a home run for me. I love steampunk and Victorian manner and mysteries. But this one fell a bit flat for me and I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it is at least partly because there was so much going on. Steampunk aspects, magic, political intrigue, murder mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, young woman forced to reconsile her past a future. It was a lot.

I had trouble getting into and staying with this one. I think the pacing was a bit off, as the book felt really long (I guess it was over 500 pages) and didn't really pick up for me until the final third. I think it would have been more manageable (and possibly enjoyable) if we had just followed Evelina, instead of diverting to follow Lord Bancroft or Tobias or Jasper Keating. I think this was mainly done to give readers more information about the mystery, but it made the book very long.

I did like the main character Evelina. She smart and resourceful, but still has some insecurities and vulnerabilities. The rest of the characters were certainly flawed individuals. I really felt for Nick, although he did some things I certainly didn't like. Tobias was an interesting character and I felt for him as well, despite (or because of) his weaknesses.

I wasn't entirely sold on the Sherlock Holmes aspect. As I mentioned before, it felt like too much when combined with steampunk and magic. This might have been a personal preference though, as I tend to favour more streamlined stories.

Overall, I did enjoy Evelina and the enjoyed the final third of the book, once things really got going, but I found a large portion of the book to be a bit of a slog. I think this might be one you have to try for yourself.

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NOTE: This review also appeared on Megan Likes Books, a blog also run by me.

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