Review: A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway ★★★★

17262144A Study in Silk by Emma Jane Holloway
Genre: Historical Fiction/Steampunk
Series: The Baskerville Affair #1
Publication Date: September 24th 2013
ISBN: 9780345537188
Page Count: 531
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Excerpt: Here
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Synopsis: 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.


Like Clockwork 

This was a great read. In fact, the more time that passes since I finished it, with the details and characters still swirling around in my brain, the more impressed I am. It really was another one those sneaky stealth books that begin kind of "hmm...", then before you know it, you've had your head buried in it for hours, the room has gone dark, and your family has given up trying to get your attention and gone out without you.

That happens with surprising frequency in my house!

I suspect my slightly cool reception initially might have been due to the tone not being quite as expected. The cover and blurb seemed to promise a more uppity, impetuous heroine full of snark and quick wit, but Evelina was so much more subtly nuanced than that. In fact, being seen as respectable and not stirring up trouble was a constant worry for her, as befitting the period setting and her precarious position within the Bancroft household. Because the thing is, Evelina has already had a somewhat unorthodox history as far as society is concerned - she was in the circus, how cool is that?! - and is only just this side of proper in the eyes of the nobility. So drawing extra attention to herself is that very last thing she wants to do. But, when dead bodies start showing up, it's not long before the niece of the great detective Sherlock Holmes reveals her true calling, and that the investigative gene hasn't skipped a generation.

Holloway's reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes was wonderful. And although he didn't steal the limelight from his niece - only appearing in the book in person very sporadically - he really did steal the scenes he was in. I absolutely adored the portrayal of him as the slightly awkward but caring Uncle. It was too sweet! He became embroiled in the mystery to a certain degree and was often asked for advice, but was usually off somewhere or out of the country with his own fish to fry, and insisted Evelina use her own judgements to solve the case. Which was great since she is our heroine, not him.

Of course, there were some wonderful Steampunk elements, too. Steampunk and a bit of magic! I loved this combination. Add into this the political machinations of the Steam Barons who lord over all - almost to the point of a dystopian society - and you've got a truly wonderful, genre-bending mix.

And, what about romance I hear you cry? Well, there was some, and small and chaste though it was, I really enjoyed it. There's a bit of a love triangle situation going on, but since there's no cavorting allowed before marriage for nice young ladies, it's a love triangle of the heart, built on unrealized desires, and totally non-annoying. And even though the book was sexless, that's not to say it didn't have its racy moments. There was this one scene in particular in the circus with Nick and the flower... I think I might have died of hormone explosion if I were in Evelina's shoes right then. Hoowee! *fans self*

So, do I recommend? Yes indeedy! It's a slow-starter, and as it's quite a long book, not the fastest paced read ever, but I really, really enjoyed it and can't wait for books two and three to come out. They called respectively A Study in Darkness and A Study in Ashes!

4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Oooh nice review!! I keep debating over this one! I've heard that it was a bit slow and that some of the steampunkness was a bit confusing. But yet, I find myself still reading reviews when they pop up and trying to decide if I should add this to my TBR mountain! It sounds great because I do love a mesh of steampunk and supernatural!!

    Once again, great review! I just might be adding this one to the TBR mountain!

  2. Great review! I've never read steampunk but this one is tempting me. ;) Evaline sounds like a very intriguing heroine. And it has magic?!? Tempting, indeed.

  3. Thanks lovely ladies! Just make sure you're in the mood for something slow and gentle and you'll be good to go:)



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