Series: The Baskerville Affair, #1
Published by Del Rey on September 24, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 560 pages
Sexual Content: kissing
Reviewed by: Kristina
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:
- A Study in Silks
- A Study in Darkness