Early Review: A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

October 24, 2013 Reviews 2 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review: A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane HollowayA Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway
Series: The Baskerville Affair #2
Genres: Steampunk
Published by Del Ray on 29 October 2013
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
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I am writing this review assuming you have read the first novel A Study in Silks – this novel can’t really be read as a standalone.  We are thrust into action from the opening page and things don’t really let up until the end. Evelina gets caught in an awkward position by Keating who demands her Uncle Sherlock complete a job for him as compensation. Evelina volunteers her services instead and winds up eking out an existence in Whitechapel. Her timing couldn’t be worse however as the very district she is living in has become Jack the Ripper’s hunting ground. 

Evelina finds it difficult to deal with the constantly shifting alliances and treachery as she is basically a good person. She makes an awful lot of mistakes when she puts her trust in fairly shifty characters in order to protect others but over time learns her lesson. Unfortunately while she is willing to martyr herself, she doesn’t always acknowledge that the people she is protecting are capable of making their own decisions. I found this endearing as it emphasised just how young she really was. It was interesting watching Evelina try to juggle her thirst for knowledge with her strong moral compass. She knew that dark magic was ‘bad’ but the power that she could wield was phenomenal. I suspect that this fascination with dark magic will be expanded on in A Study in Ashes. 

I really enjoyed watching Nick come into his own as a pirate captain and hone his wild magic. His Achilles Heel however remains Evelina and I thought he was pretty patient when it came to her vacillating between him and Tobias (now engaged to Keating’s daughter). Partly thanks to the efforts of Nick, the rebels are gaining in strength even though they are not yet a force to be reckoned with. It is a shame because every time I think the steam barons can’t sink any lower, they do something even more heinous. As a group they are uniformly repellent and the fact I have such a strong reaction to them is testament to Holloway’s skill. The problem is that no one can be trusted as even the underlings have the equivalent of a half bob each way. Please can we have a big showdown in the next novel?

The tone of this novel is darker than its predecessor and this combined with the airship action scenes meant I had great difficulty putting the novel down. The world building is rich and evocative. I wish Imogen had a bit more page time and that she got the little slice of happiness she craved.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Study in Darkness and can’t wait to rip into A Study in Ashes. Highly recommended.

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