Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: A Study in Silks

Title: A Study in Silks
Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Series: The Baskerville Affair #1
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: I received an ecopy in exchange for a honest review.

Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?

This book really should have been a home run for me. I love steampunk and Victorian manner and mysteries. But this one fell a bit flat for me and I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it is at least partly because there was so much going on. Steampunk aspects, magic, political intrigue, murder mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, young woman forced to reconsile her past a future. It was a lot.

I had trouble getting into and staying with this one. I think the pacing was a bit off, as the book felt really long (I guess it was over 500 pages) and didn't really pick up for me until the final third. I think it would have been more manageable (and possibly enjoyable) if we had just followed Evelina, instead of diverting to follow Lord Bancroft or Tobias or Jasper Keating. I think this was mainly done to give readers more information about the mystery, but it made the book very long.

I did like the main character Evelina. She smart and resourceful, but still has some insecurities and vulnerabilities. The rest of the characters were certainly flawed individuals. I really felt for Nick, although he did some things I certainly didn't like. Tobias was an interesting character and I felt for him as well, despite (or because of) his weaknesses.

I wasn't entirely sold on the Sherlock Holmes aspect. As I mentioned before, it felt like too much when combined with steampunk and magic. This might have been a personal preference though, as I tend to favour more streamlined stories.

Overall, I did enjoy Evelina and the enjoyed the final third of the book, once things really got going, but I found a large portion of the book to be a bit of a slog. I think this might be one you have to try for yourself.

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  1. The blurb sounded really good, but after reading your review I think I might have trouble getting into it too, books with slow starts tend to not keep me interested as much. Thanks for reviewing!

  2. Sorry this fell a little flat for you!

  3. Well Victorian manner and steampunk are usually a win combination for me, plus this one has Sherlock in it! So I'm really sad to hear that this one felt rather flat for you. When books have some mainstream ideas like Sherlock here it's really hard to pull it off. So yeah. Great review :)

  4. I think I would have much the same reaction to this one Megan! I'm a girl that likes to stay with just one or two characters and not get bounced around to a handful of them, so I know I would want to stick with Evelina:) It's a shame too this one took so long to really get going, but I'm glad it ended on a high note rather than starting out strong and petering out toward the end:)

  5. Bummer I have I think all three books in this series and I keep meaning to read it. I am disappointed in the pacing. I hope that it goes a bit better for me when I get to it.

  6. This sounds interesting, sad that it was almost too much with all the aspects, but I still think I will give it a shot in a future
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  7. I'm very picky with Speampunk books because I'm new to it and I try to choose books that will make me love the genre, you know? This doesn't seem like the perfect choice for a 'beginner' lol. But thank you very much for the review! :D

    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

  8. That's disappointing that this didn't wow you. I have it on my shelf and I thought it sounded great. It is a bit daunting at that length though!

  9. I personally don't read enough steampunk novel. I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. So add a murder and some sorcerer then I'm in. I'm sorry this wasn't up to your standards though. I hate when that happens. Lovely review, Megan! :)

  10. I'm on the prowl for a new Steampunk series to start, because unfortunately Bec McMaster's is beginning to fizzle. I'm not sold on this one yet though on account of the slog-ish ending. Happy Friday, Megan!