Book Review: A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks is the first book in The Baskerville Affair series by Emma Jane Holloway. Evelina Cooper is the niece of Sherlock Holmes and is staying with a good friend as they prepare for their first London Season.  However, a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, a visit from part of her past life, and a talking mouse complicate matters. This Victorian era is ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, with mechanical power as the real monarch, and magic is considered the enemy of the empire. Evelina has a touch of magic and has secretly mastered a coveted weapon, magic that can run machines. Can she trust the clever rake that is her best friends brother the dashing performer from her past who would do anything she asked?

A Study in Silks has elements of magic, history, and mystery. I enjoyed the characters and the danger that seemed around every corner, but felt that it  had some very slow moments. Evelina is an unconventional girl, loving to tinker and have a special talent for magic, which is forbidden and feared. She had a very different childhood than most, and has a keen mind and set of unshakable standards because of it. Nick is a part of her past and part of the sad little love triangle, and her best friend's brother is the other piece of that puzzle. There is intrigue, magic, murder, mayhem, murder, and politics. I enjoyed the characters and the variety of twists and connections through out the book.

I have had this young adult steampunk novel in my Kindle queue for awhile. As I read it, I feel like I must have started it before because it felt familiar, but it was not until I looked at the length that I realized why I kept putting it off. It is long, quite long. I think it was a bit longer than was needed, but I could not say what should have been cut, or where it could have been concluded and picked back up as a second book, which is probably why the author and editors left it as a whole. As I read there continued to be moments where I wondered if I really had read this before, bits seemed very familiar but I could never put my finger on why.

A Study in Silks is something that I would recommend to those that love steampunk and magic. However, not to those with short attention spans. This book is long and slowly paced for the most part, but the character details and world building is very involved and that length seems necessary for the depth of detail. By the time i reached the end I was eager to read what happens in the next book, so this series starter does do its job, as long as readers stick with it. I just might pick up the next one, particularly since the work of world building and set up is done.

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