Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Study in Silk by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks (Goodreads)

I love stumbling upon books which leave me longing for the next in the series. A Study in Silks is definitely one of those. Happily, I don't have to wait to long because the next two books will be out before the end of the year. I will definitely be reading them. 

I saw A Study in Silks on Netgalley and was beguiled by the premise. . .

In this steampunk whodunit, Emma Jane Holloway weaves an imaginative story around Sherlock Holmes's niece, Evelina Cooper. Evelina is a girl caught between two worlds: her childhood spent as a trapeze artist in the circus (a legacy from her father) and her opportunity as a young debutante facing her first season in London to find a gentleman husband (a legacy from her mother who happened to be Sherlock Holmes's sister). Add Evelina's bright, inquiring mind and her magical abilities - kept secret because she lives in a age when knowledge of magic is a crime punishable by death - to the mix and we have a rollicking read. 

The book opens with a murder at Evelina's best friend Imogen's family home where Evelina is staying for the season. Encouraged by Imogen's rakish brother Tobias, whom she is secretly crushing on, Evelina quickly becomes embroiled in the investigation. To add to the confusion, Evelina's childhood sweetheart Nick, a circus performer, appears in her bedroom moments before the murder is discovered. But for all this, Evelina's only concern is to protect the reputation of Imogen's family and to keep her magical abilities hidden. Her task is greatly challenged by Imogen's father who seems to be deeply implicated in the murder, and a whole lot of other clandestine activities involving sorcery and a collection of fascinating, but dangerous steam-driven constructs.

The many other characters who share the stage with her are richly depicted and interestingly flawed. There isn't one of them - including Evelina - who comes off squeaky clean and sparkly. Everyone has an agenda, everyone has a price, usually exacted by the powerful steam barons who virtually control life and death. Even Sherlock Holmes, who makes an appearance, is successfully blackmailed by them!

A Study in Silk is a fun read that kept me riveted for my entire plane flight from Cape Town, through Dubai, and onto Newcastle. I just couldn't put it down. Even better, the story stayed with me for days afterwards as I pondered how each character's motives added to the convoluted plot. The more I thought about, the more excited I got for the next book: A Study in Darkness due in October.

So if you love steampunk, mysteries, bitter-sweet romance, and fascinating characters, then this one is definitely for you.

Stars? Definitely a four star read.


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