Release Day Review: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane Holloway

September 24, 2013 Review 5

Release Day Review: A Study in Silks  (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane HollowayA Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway
Series: The Baskerville Affair, #1
Published by Del Rey on September 24, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook
Pages: 560 pages
Source: Edelweiss
Sexual Content: kissing
Reviewed by: Kristina
3 Stars

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high 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’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.

What drew me to A STUDY IN SILKS was the fact that it was a sort of spin off of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series with Holmes’ niece taking center stage as the detective. I adore mysteries just about as much as urban fantasy and a good murder mystery mixed with some magical mayhem is my cup of tea.  The world building in A STUDY IN SILKS was pretty deep and complex involving steam barons at war with new non steam technology and anything magical. In fact there could have been a whole story based on just the budding revolution against the steam barons who rule over the economy with an iron fist. I loved this idea but it came off as too wordy at times with a disorienting amount of detail. The steam baron backdrop and revolution plot shared space with the murder mystery and while I understand the overall reason for the multiple plots running parallel with each other it became near impossible to keep up with everything.

Also lessening my enjoyment of a good murder  amid political chaos story was the ever increasing and constantly shifting POVs. At times these POVs were simply rehashing the same scene from a different character perspective which felt very redundant. There were also little story threads that related somewhat to the main thread that just added to the frustrating amount of information we are given. Typically with mysteries I enjoy having everyone as a suspect and trying to figure out whodunnit along with the main character(s). This is a simple issue of personal preference but it lessened my excitement over the whole mystery plot when everyone I suspect is absolved by their POV section.

At the center of all this baffling world building and character POVs is Evelina Cooper who is a feisty and brilliant character with magical abilities she uses to solve the murder at the center of the story. I liked how she used her magic and how she is able to combine it with her automatons to help solve the murder. Unfortunately we don’t get enough time with her to get a firm grasp on her magic abilities or her sleuthing capabilities. Being Sherlock Holmes’ niece I wanted to have her do more investigating then she did since what we do get of her sleuthing is a nice homage to the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes.

My favorite parts of A STUDY IN SILKS were Evelina’s interactions with her uncle Sherlock as he helps her with clues in his logical and super observant ways. There are also plenty of Sherlock Holmes references and even cameo’s from various Conan Doyle characters that had me going “I remember that guy!” from Conan Doyle’s work.

A STUDY IN SILKS pays homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series with doses of  technology, magic, murder and nefarious deeds. Overwhelming feelings of confusion aside I liked the ideas and mysteries presented in A STUDY IN SILKS and look forward to seeing what happens next in the second book of The Baskerville Affair; A STUDY IN DARKNESS out October 29, 2013 by Del Rey.

Series Titles:
  1. A Study in Silks
  2. A Study in Darkness
More Reviews: Similar Titles:

5 Responses to “Release Day Review: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane Holloway”

  1. Bibliotropic

    More and more I think I need to actually sit down and read the Sherlock Holmes books and stories, because they get references so often in other fiction that I want to read and I can’t help but feel that I’ll be missing some of the enjoyment if I don’t read the source material first. At least it doesn’t sound like I’ll need more than a passing familiarity to enjoy A Study in Silks, but still, I love seeing all the little extras and cameos and whatnot and knowing where they came from instead of them just being random little things that mean little without the context.

    Thanks for the review, and I’m looking forward to reading this one when I’m in the mood for some lighter fare.

    • Kristina

      Thanks. I would highly recommend any Sherlock Holmes story. They’re great mysteries. 🙂

  2. [email protected] GREAT read

    Nice review! I remember reading another early review of this one that mentioned some overwhelming feelings and confusion with the world setting and I admit that’s what’s having me hesitant on this one! Normally I love a good mystery coupled with paranormal bits. I like steampunk as well, as long as it doesn’t get overly complicated. All in all, this sounds like the perfect read for me, but since I keep hearing about some of the confusion with the setting and whatnot, I am still a bit leary on this one.

    Still, fabulous review!

  3. Mikaela

    This is on my wishlist, and it sounds really interesting. I might wait until after WFC to buy it. Since who knows what books I might find there. ( It would be my usual luck to buy it three days before WFC, only to find out that the publisher had donated copies or it was much cheaper at WFC. ) 🙂