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A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) by…

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (edition 2013)

by Emma Jane Holloway

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3292948,730 (3.57)13
Title:A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair)
Authors:Emma Jane Holloway
Info:Del Rey (2013), Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:YA, Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes

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A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway



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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
3.5/5 stars

Evelina Cooper is the niece of Sherlock Holmes. But not in the world we know, in an excellently crafted and fleshed-out world where steam power dominates and those who control it, the Steam Barons, rule nearly all. The Steam Barons decide who has power and who does not, and they harshly suppress any other forms of power, technological and magical. This gives them unprecedented control, and the ability to make even the nobility bow to their will. But not everyone is happy with this. There's a thriving black market for mechanical items and a shadow organization trying to undermine the Steam Barons. And, in hiding, there are magicians.

This leads us to Evelina, living with the Roths (best friend Imogen, rakish Tobias, and their parents, the quiet Lady Bancroft and the mercurial Lord Bancroft). A servant girl is killed and mysterious intruders abound. There are plots upon plots, all of them leading back to that one, dead, servant. Evelina wants to solve the mystery herself, Lord Bancroft wants her distracted so she can't, and a Steam Baron has hired Sherlock Holmes to investigate something that will lead him straight to the Roth's doorstep. The mystery is oh-so-tangled, and at the end, even when it is solved, some things remain unclear and many things are painful for those left standing.

I like this book because of the world building, because the characters make hard decisions, and because even though I figured out parts of the mystery I had no idea about the ultimate solution. I like Evelina, with her circus and magic background, and her determination to get an education, and for her willingness to pay the cost. I liked her magical and technological friends, Mouse and Bird. The villain was truly evil, the Steam Barons frightening, and the love both uplifting and sad.

I'm very interested to see what happens with Imogen. I'm suspicious of her dreams of being confined in a box. With the mysterious automatons Lord Bancroft tried to hide, the one Tobias destroyed, and that so much magic and mystery took place when Imogen was so ill and her twin sister died. I wonder what she is. Is she Imogen or is she a creation of technology and magic?

(Provided by publisher) ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
Dragged a bit - could've been shorter. But pretty good, nonetheless. ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
I loved this to pieces. I really did. I made the mistake of looking at others' reviews, and I really shouldn't do that, and I'm not going to let it affect my opinion or my rating (and will do my best not to make this an out–and–out rebuttal of some of those reviews, despite some things said in them which baffled me): I enjoyed reading A Study in Silks, I enjoyed the characters and the plot and the writing, and I even, to my surprise, enjoyed the involvement of his serene consultingness Sherlock Holmes.

It is the tale of a young woman, Evelina, whose rather–upper–crust mother (Sherlock Holmes's sister) ran off with a young man from a circus background, who then died; disowned by the "better" folk, she turned to the show folk for support, and thus Evelina grew up performing. (I saw a review which called this niece of Sherlock Holmes who grew up performing in the circus boring. If Evelina's boring, I'm not sure what that makes me. Coma–inspiring, I suppose?) Now, though, Evelina's Holmes grandmother has – for various reasons – seen to it that she has attended finishing school and is having her Season.

One of my favorite things is a really well–turned phrase, a clever metaphor or simile. And Emma Jane Holloway excels in this area.

- - "The expectation that Evelina would also fall from grace—an event no doubt attended with all the aplomb and inevitability of cold gravy plopping from a spoon—was sufficiently acute that there were days when Evelina wanted to oblige and get it over with."

- - "One couldn’t throw a dinner bun in London without hitting a liar."

- - "The tall, lanky Edgerton moved like a giraffe on ice skates."

I loved the Society for the Proliferation of Impertinent Events.

I appreciated the characters. There was depth to them, and believability. "Tobias was intrigued. People had wanted him for his name, or his looks, or what he might do for them, but never for what he loved about himself." Poor little rich boy … no, seriously, poor Tobias, thwarted in what he most wanted to do and afraid of being forced into the wrong mold. After all, "A man has needs beyond a stuffed sheep".

Imogen's father was an interesting character. "Her hair had smelled of Cook’s baking bread, and for a week afterward his dinner rolls had carried an erotic thrill."

Imogen and her incipient love affair was adorable. "Tea is never as simple as it appears, Mr. Penner."

"Well, I understand the school closed the year you left."
Evelina cringed at the memory. "The headmistress retired after an unfortunate incident with the walking dead, but that’s a tiresome story."
– I love that that's all of it. Unless there's a prequel out there somewhere, there's just the mention, as tantalizing as her uncle's "giant rat of Sumatra".

Evelina was not a Mary Sue: always a plus. She could easily have been one – for a minute I was very much afraid that she would exhibit signs – but no: she was an intelligent teenaged girl with abilities, but not able to beat all comers and swan through unscathed.

Speaking of his deer–stalkeredness – I did not think this would work. But it did. Often the best way to keep me from being a fan is to graft one's own cutting onto a family tree where it ought not to belong – but this actually did work for me. This Holmes, dispensing very Holmesian advice to and expecting high levels of competence from his sister's daughter, is in a very similar vein to Laurie R. King's incarnation, in that – in his cool and detached way – he takes under his almost indifferent wing an orphaned girl, and expects her to rise. I found this Holmes's reactions completely believable. (Keep in mind, of course, that when I read the canon through last year I discovered that I despise the original Holmes, so close enough is … close enough.)

I did find the statement "He holds his clients’ confidentiality in high regard" as funny here as the protestations and situations in the canon; how sacrosanct is confidentiality with Watson in a corner making notes toward future publication?

All too often I have happily dived into a steampunk novel, expecting to love every minute of the ride … only to give up on it in annoyance (or finish it in annoyance). This, though, fit the bill perfectly for me: this did just about everything I'd want steampunk to do. I loved the big bad evil of the steam lobby, and the logic of how it all came about and proliferated and kept everything else down. I loved the shifting boundaries of the different–colored factions. (One thing, though: "One pays once for light and again for heat and thrice if you are so lucky as to receive electricity for your business" – how is that different from now?) I loved the crab/squid.

I saw an outraged note out there about the line "Tobias remembered some Serb had recently published a paper on wireless transmission", highly indignant that Tesla would be referred to thus… but it's from Tobias's point of view. From Tobias I would expect the prime minister to be "that chap with the monocle", if of course he had a monocle. I was pleased to catch the reference and tickled that it was there, not upset by the fact that it wasn't more pointed. (Seriously, that's the only time I'll reference another review.)

Something that did bug me, a lot, was the quote of a theatre poster (I think): "THE KNIGHTS OF TATIANA VICTORIOUS OVER THE FORCES OF KING OBERON". Tatiana??? Since when was the fairy queen Russian?

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Aug 29, 2016 |
So I finished A Study In Silks last night, and right off the bat, I am quite disappointed.

I loved the cover of this book, loved the idea of the book, but ultimately I found it confusing. Which I am sad about because I'm not a steampunk fan, but I picked this one up hoping it would help me transition into the genre.

Alas, it was not meant to be. I found the characters hard to grasp. I don't know if it was because it was told from multiple view points, but I didn't get a sense of WHO they were. Not a single one. And they all seemed really weak, like they couldn't stand behind their decisions - especially Tobias near the end.

I also felt like I had come in through the middle of the book and had missed all relationship building between the characters. And some "relationship building" throughout the book was needed. Two people falling in love within a week without barely speaking to each other? Come on.

Two big questions that still plague my mind:
How did Nick know where to find Evelina?
Is there really a point to having Sherlock Holmes in the story?

I really wanted to like this series, but I don't know if I will be continuing on with it or not. ( )
  keyboardscoffee | May 30, 2016 |
This book was waaaaay more complicated than it needed to be. There were too many mysteries, too many characters, too many people with too many personal agendas. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the magic science aspects, and some of the "action" scenes (like defeating the warehouse's magical guardian) were very good. But I had to read to the end in a dogged fashion. There was just... too much. ( )
  tigerb | Apr 7, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Emma Jane Hollowayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Masters, AngèleNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mollica, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my good friends,
who know precisely when to administer tea,
common sense, or chocolate as required
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Evelina froze, a breath half taken catching her throat, nerves tingling down every limb.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345537181, Mass Market Paperback)

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London 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 Holmes’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.

Advance praise for Emma Jane Holloway’s Evelina Cooper novels
“Sherlock Holmes’s niece Evelina Cooper is a charming addition to the canon.”—Jacqueline Carey, on A Study in Silks
“Quite a ride through an alternate Victorian England, full of thrills and frills.”—Nicole Peeler, on A Study in Darkness
“Magic, machines, mystery, and mayhem: This book has just about everything.”—Kevin Hearne, on A Study in Ashes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:26 -0400)

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London 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?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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