Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Reading 2013 A Study in Silks

I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (books, movies, TV shows), so I was excited to hear about a new series of books by Emma Jane Holloway featuring his niece. Evelina Cooper is the daughter of Sherlock's sister, who eloped with someone from a lower social class and was disowned by the older Holmes. Evie is raised in the circus that her father grew up in before joining the military and earning a commission for bravery in the field. Eventually her Grandmama Holmes fetches Evie and sends her to a prestigious finishing school. She makes friends with Imogen Roth and they go to Imogen's home after graduation to participate in the social season. This London of 1888 is controlled by the Steam Barons. Each controls a district of the city where they provide the utilities. The barons prevent anyone else from developing other energy sources and they control all inventions and technology experimentation. They have even gone so far as to have magic outlawed and those accused are burned at the stake. When servants in Imogen's household are killed and Uncle Sherlock is brought in by one of the barons to investigate a related crime, the mystery begins to draw in Evie and her friends.

The world is brought to life through the descriptions of the steam-driven gadgets (including a gigantic squid), the colored globes on the gaslights that mark each baron's sphere of influence, and the interactions between the various characters from each of the social classes. The characters are well-developed - Evelina, Imogen and her family, Evie's friend Nick from the circus, the Steam Barons and their henchmen, the other members of the gentry, all have their quirks and individual strengths and weaknesses. There is also the intriguing combination of magic and mechanical constructs that several characters are developing.

There is something to appeal to different types of readers: magic, steampunk, love triangle, intrigue and mystery. I would recommend this to YA readers due to the adult relationships between some of the characters. There is a trailer for the series.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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