My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received for review from Amazon Vine
Emma Jane Holloway’s steampunk mystery/thriller, “A Study in Silks”, is fabulous. Thank goodness it is the first of three in the Baskerville Affair. The plot is common enough–murder in a wealthy home, police are stumped (or ignore it), powerful enemies want the murder to stay hidden, amateur detective digs around until it’s solved–at the risk of her own life, girl falls in love with TWO boys. Yeah, you’ve read dozens like that.
Here’s what makes Holloway’s story different:
- the amateur detective (Evelena Cooper) is Sherlock Homes’ gorgeous niece, which means he makes a few critical cameos
- Evelena has a storied past–which includes, magic, common roots, secrets that could ruin her in the wealthy society she wishes to be part of
- Evelena has magical powers, part of which are a cute mouse and a sharp-tongued bird who add comic relief at just the right times
- it’s set in Victorian England in a bit of an alternate reality where Steam Power is King
From the beginning, I can feel 1800’s England–the clothing, bustling life, speech style. Holloway puts me there. The characters are multi-layered and believable. The plot is richly-woven and intricate. And then she mixes in a touch of sci fi with futuristic devices, and a sprinkle of magic, to create a hybrid genre that Amazon settled on classifying as ‘mystery-thriller.
The only part that annoyed me was the temporal arrangement of the early chapters. The story kept jumping around as Holloway tried to share the actions of the various main characters. I didn’t so much get used to it as it ended when the plot was in full swing.
Although the story takes 549 pages to tell, the last few pages make it clear this is only part one. Thank goodness. I need to see what happens to Evelena. And Mouse. And Bird…
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a weekly columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.