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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steam-punk meets Sherlock Holmes' niece
This is an engaging romp of a read featuring Evelina Cooper, young niece of Sherlock Holmes, who is obsessed with machines, has inherited magic Blood, is doing the Season - oh, and has to solve a murder in the house in which she's staying.

Evelina is an appealing heroine, and the steam-punk Victoriana world is well-done - though, in places, I did want the...
Published 7 months ago by Roman Clodia

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3.0 out of 5 stars Baskerville Affair book 1
After really enjoying the prequel short story The Adventure of the Woolaston Ritual (you can read that for free on the author's website) I was really looking forward to reading A Study in Silks. Unfortunately although I liked the story it failed to live up to expectations and I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. I think my main issues were to do with the pacing,...
Published 4 months ago by Sarah (Feeling Fictional)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steam-punk meets Sherlock Holmes' niece, 24 Sep 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is an engaging romp of a read featuring Evelina Cooper, young niece of Sherlock Holmes, who is obsessed with machines, has inherited magic Blood, is doing the Season - oh, and has to solve a murder in the house in which she's staying.

Evelina is an appealing heroine, and the steam-punk Victoriana world is well-done - though, in places, I did want the background/world-building to stop and the story to progress at a faster pace. There is much switching of points-of-view, and changes of scene that might slow the story down for some readers - and that makes this a long book: 560 pp. in paperback, 8810 in the Kindle digital proof I was reading.

Holloway writes well with a subtle humour. Her style is elegant as is fitting for the historical setting but a few points of Americanese have slipped through which detract from the illusion of Victorian London: Sherlock Holmes wouldn't 'write you' but would 'write to you' as would any well-bred gentleman, and a Victorian girl wouldn't think something rustled like 'a candy wrapper'.

So this is great for when you want to read something which is pure entertainment: nothing literary, complex, worthy or meaningful, just a good romp of a story.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like Clockwork, 4 Oct 2013
By 
The Demon Librarian (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
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! And although he became embroiled in the mystery to a certain degree, he was often 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 25 Sep 2013
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
Evelina Cooper is the niece of the great detective Sherlock Holmes she spent her childhood living in a circus with her grandmother until she's taken from the circus by her Grandmother Holmes to become a lady at a school for girls. Now Evelina is staying with her friend Imogen's family, the Bancroft's. The girls are preparing for the season, when a serving girl is murdered in the house. When two grooms removing mysterious trunks from the attic are also found dead, Evelina sets out to investigate using everything she's learned from her Uncle. But the murders are part of a much bigger picture, one that's connected to the case her Uncle is working for Keating, The Gold King. Evelina must solve the crime, be presented to the Queen, protect the Bancroft's, survive the season and all while being caught between the rakish Tobias, Lord Bancroft's son and Imogen's brother, and childhood love Nick, and avoiding the mysterious and dangerous Dr. Magnus.
While certain aspects of the synopsis aren't anything you haven't read before, particularly the love triangle, the book stands out as a totally original and unique story. Lots of different things make it different from other books of the same genre.....

The book is set in a steam-punk world where London is divided in to territories and each territory is ruled by a different steam baron, Green, Gold, Scarlet, Violet, Blue and Grey, while below the underground is the Black District, ruled by an unknown person or persons, which could prove an interesting element in the next installment. The Steam Baron's are the providers of the steam that lights the houses and the street lights, the Baron's rule with an iron fist ensuring that anyone who tries to create an alternate to steam swiftly disappears. They have ultimate control of the most important resource to the Empire.

In this world, magic is also feared and those accused of practicing magic are either burned or taken to the royal laboratories. Evelina is a possessor of magic, she can create clockwork animals, and then use a Deva, a sort of magical energy with thought and so on, to bring the animal alive. Thus she creates two of my favourite characters in the story...Mouse and Bird, her spies and companions, and the comic duo of the book, written with Holloway's subtle humour; "Why can't it be a nice tearoom? Why always the nasty grotty places?". Let's not forget the Athena Device, an object of similar magic to Mouse and Bird, but ancient, and the object that's going to be a key player in the next two books.

The main point of the story is the murder of the serving girl, but as the story continues you can see that there are more threads weaved in, creating an intricately woven story that keeps you guessing until the end as to who is responsible for each thread of the richly intricate story. She's blended, mystery, murder, sci-fi, and magic, and there was an abundance of clockwork/futuristic devices, all described in rich detail.

The characters where brought to life brilliantly, each character was unique and multi-layered. The thing I loved most was that the two love interests where not your usual prince Charming types, they weren't perfect. Each one did things they're not proud of and things they would regret, particularly at the end of the book which leaves an interesting opening for the next book. The imperfections of the characters make them believable.

Holloway sets each scene precisely and with great detail, so you're left with a clear picture in your mind of what the scene looks like. The imagery is fantastic,and detailed, and there's detailed back-story on each character. There's also a lot of detail in the world building, which perhaps wasn't all necessary, and definitely slowed the pace of the book.

The pace is hampered slightly by all the descriptives and information. The story also jumps from the different point of views of Evelina, Tobias, Nick, Imogen, Lord Bancroft and Keating. In the initial first few chapters, this made it hard to get a grip on the story and get into the flow straight away, as it was jumping from character to character, sharing the action among them. As the book went on I got used to it, and the jumping around calmed down a bit. I did also spot a few Americanisms that jarred through the 1800's setting that we where so thoroughly drawn in to but it was very rare and for me didn't detract from the story.

However, a lot of the chapters had newspaper clippings of articles related to the story, either to do with what you'd just read, or to keep you up to date with another thread of the story that you don't realize is important until much later in the book, and quotes from Sherlock Holmes, noted down by Watson in various books. This kept the book fresh, and was an interesting way to impart information for background purposes or to close/open a thread of the story.

Sherlock Holmes fans will be pleased to know that he makes quite a large cameo appearance in this first book, ad is truer to Doyle's original Sherlock rather than Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of the character. We also get a cameo from Watson and Lestrade. The connection to Sherlock Holmes also has a deeper connection, with the governments supposed secret rebellion/task force/project to overthrow the Steam Baron's being code named as Baskerville.

The book is long, but well worth ploughing through, if you have the time for a leisurely read. I wouldn't recommend picking up the book, reading a bit, and then putting it down again as you're likely to get lost and forget key information. It was a unique, enchanting and thoroughly enjoyable read. There's plenty of Romance too, not just involving Evelina, Tobias and Nick, but Imogen, who gets her own little love story.

The book's written in such a way that, despite the pacing issues, you want to keep reading, the end of each chapter leaves on a note that urges you to keep reading, and there's lots of things in place setting up the next installment, behavior, events and so on, that creates a huge anticipation for the next installment!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Excessively long book sucks life from characters & plot, 16 April 2014
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
Two hundred pages into this novel and I realised I had still got basically no where. And by the page count I still had three hundred and fifty pages to go. The experience of reading this book I could only equate with treading water. This novel lacked pacing, excitement and tension... whenever I saw a glimmer of hope the book would suddenly switch to another character's narrative or Evelina for the twentieth time would start waffling, sitting around thinking or doing the exact opposite of anything proactive (like actually do some detective work).
The jumping from character to character narrative was bad enough but then the author started to fiddle with the time line. At one point we are with Evelina discovering a corpse late in the evening. Next chapter, different character - earlier in the evening. Next chapter, new character - police have arrived at house , story is back in present. Next chapter another new character - now it is the morning of the murder and the next chapter we stay with this character but the timing is the afternoon of the murder.
This book couldn't seem to make up its mind - was it a romance or a murder mystery - in fact it was neither. The characters are so dreary and lifeless (lack of pacing, anything actually happening to them) that the reader loses all empathy and patience with them by about mid way through the book.
Like many I saw the premise (and the admittedly cute cover) and thought what a great idea. However the magic element feels crammed in at the last moment just so the author can make some admittedly small leaps forward in the plot. And at least twice the author refers to the wrong character. Believe the editors and the author have a lot to answer for.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable series, but I wish it would have had less Romance and more Smart Protagonist. (3.5 stars), 13 Mar 2014
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
What I really enjoyed about this series (A Study in Silks, A Study in Darkness, A Study in Ashes):

- excellent Steampunk ideas, devices, and contrivances
- likeable main character (and a non-bimbo sidekick! yay!)
- fairly-well-developed characters and backgrounds
- good knowledge of period dress and customs
- well-developed worldbuilding for the magic base
- clever alternate plot "truths" using Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

What I could have done without:

- protagonist's seemingly endless dithering about men, and treacly romantic scenes (to be fair, it *is* marketed as Paranormal Romance)
- protagonist continually set as Damsel in Distress (kidnapped, trapped, imprisoned), only being freed by the next captor or by accident, rather than by her own ingenuity, skill, and pluck
- resolution of the series where most important thing, sadly, seems to be the protagonist getting married to her man

If you like Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, you will probably enjoy this one.

If you'd rather bypass the treacly romantic stuff, this series might be too much for you.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Baskerville Affair book 1, 6 Dec 2013
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
After really enjoying the prequel short story The Adventure of the Woolaston Ritual (you can read that for free on the author's website) I was really looking forward to reading A Study in Silks. Unfortunately although I liked the story it failed to live up to expectations and I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected to. I think my main issues were to do with the pacing, this is a long book (over 500 pages) and at times it really struggled to hold my interest. I think the main cause of the problem was the multiple points of view, I counted at least 7 different POVs and it seemed like you'd go multiple chapters without hearing from the main character. I loved Evelina's voice and I enjoyed the occasional chapters from her love interests and even her best friend Imogen but when you start adding more than that it just became too much and it gets to the point where the reader has too much information about what is happening. I wanted to be able to uncover the mystery alongside Evelina not find out everything in advance and I lost interest in her investigation because of that.

To move on to the positives I have to say I really loved the world building and I'm hoping the teething problems were just down to this being the first book in the series. Evelina is a great heroine, she is intelligent and has her uncle Sherlock's curiosity and ability to tie clues together. She is still young and idealistic so she does make mistakes but her heart is in the right place and she always tries to do the right thing. I loved her magical abilities, I don't want to say too much about them because I'd rather let you discover them for yourselves so I'll just say her pets were one of my favourite things about the story. I really liked the strong bond that Evelina has with her best friend Imogen, the two of them are more like sisters in a lot of ways and I always appreciate strong female friendships in my stories. Imogen is Evelina's complete opposite in a lot of ways, she had a very different upbringing and her family have high expectations of her making a good match but she has a rebellious streak that makes her keen to help Evelina with her investigation. The two girls often get themselves in trouble but they always have each other's backs.

I was slightly disappointed when I discovered that this series was going to have a love triangle (I'm so sick of seeing them in pretty much every YA series I read) but I have to say I was impressed with the way this one was handled. For the majority of the book I couldn't decide which of the two guys I liked more, I kept switching back and forth from Nick to Tobias and it wasn't until near the end when I finally decided which team I'm on. The two men couldn't be more different to each other but I could see why Evelina was drawn to them both. Nick is someone she grew up with, someone she has always been able to rely on and who understands her completely, he is her best friend and they have a shared past that will always tie them together. Tobias on the other hand is everything she should be looking for in a husband, he is Imogen's brother and someone she has liked from afar since she first met him. He is a rake and a playboy but he is from the right kind of family and marrying him would assure her of her place in society, something that is important to her considering the scandal in her family history. I think Evelina is going to have to choose a guy based on what she wants her future to be like and I'm REALLY hoping she'll want to live a life of adventure with Nick!

Of course I can't talk about this book without mentioning Sherlock, Evelina is his niece and she contacts him for help when she has trouble with her investigations. He is absent for the majority of the book but I loved every scene he was in, I'd actually have much preferred spending more time with him than with some of the other characters we are subjected to! Although the issues I had with A Study in Silks turn this into a middle of the road read rather than the fantastic one it could have been I like the characters and the world enough to read the next book. The pacing of this story picked up considerably during the last 20% or so and if Emma Jane Holloway can only follow that through into the next book I can see myself devouring the rest of the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk and the secret Holmes..., 12 Nov 2013
By 
Cheryl M-M (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
Interesting angle combining the world of Sherlock Holmes with steampunk.
Not sure if it was intentional but the there was a sub-plot with a subliminal political message. The steam barons own and control all the energy sources in the book that are required to produce heat and light. If anyone dares to defy them they become 'Disconnected' from those vital sources. Their houses are void of light and heat, which is apparent to others that surround them. A darkened, cold house among the brightly lit ones. The disconnection leads to the party in question becoming ostracized by society.
In essence this is a wee poke with a large stick at the global energy companies of our era. They control price, amount and who gets what. If you can't match their high prices or demands then you become disconnected. Kudos to the author for that clever hidden message even if it wasn't planned on her part.
Despite this being an interesting debut it could have done with a good edit.
It is filled with superfluous scenes and bit by bit details of the same issue over and over again. I found myself being drawn in by the steampunk and intriguing magical details, only to be put off by the inane repetitive sections and narrative about debutantes in society.
Holloway hasn't really managed to pull off the perfect combo of mystery vs steampunk. Her steampunk and magic are the elements that have convinced me to read the next book, but her mystery is a let down.
If you're going to use any element of Sherlock Holmes, even if it is only an imaginary niece, then you better make sure you cross your Holmes and dot your Watson.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant start to the series., 12 Oct 2013
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
I received a free copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book, it's well-written with a really great story-line, a brilliant cast of characters and a heroine who is the niece of Sherlock Holmes. It is set in Victorian England but has a steam-punk flavour, the London in this story is run by the Steam Baron's. A group of very rich people who charge everyone for their lights, heating and other amenities, depending on who you pay depends on the colour of your light's. Think of them as a type of mafia who rule the streets with all the weight of their money behind them, they own the police and many politicians and can have you Disconnected at their whim.

Evelina Cooper lived with her grandma at the circus until her maternal grandmother comes to take her away. Thrust into a world of fancy gowns, parties and Presentation to the Queen, she finds that whilst staying with her friend Imogen is pleasant, there is also a lot of shady goings on. In this new world, she could be arrested and sentenced to death or detained at Her Majesties Leisure in a Medical facility if she is caught doing magic. With her interest in machinery, clockworks and magic, she has to tread carefully and whilst working in the attic to avoid detection she is disturbed by a couple of Groomsmen who have been sent to collect a couple of trunks from the attic as well.

She is soon thrust into a world of murder, intrigue, romance and magic through which she must carefully navigate her way to discover just who killed the maid, the groomsmen and just what is Dr Magnus after.

Being the niece of the Great Sherlock Holmes, she doesn't shy away from the situation. Instead she takes it upon herself to try and save her friends from being disgraced. As she follows the clues and avoids Dr Magnus as much as possible, who seems intent on exploiting her magical abilities, she also finds herself falling for Imogen's brother, Tobias but also still has feelings for her childhood friend Nick.

With a little help from her uncle, she finally gets to the bottom of whole affair and without losing her life.

I shall be reading the next book, A Study in Darkness and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest of the weird, wonderful world of steam-punk.
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK but unfulfilling, 7 Oct 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
Sherlock's niece takes the lead in this tale that brings the deductive skills to the fore alongside magicks that are questioned by the masses and often lead to prosecutions. Its cleverly written, and whilst the lead character was interesting certain parts of the story ironically felt like it was running out of steam leading to a conclusion that felt a little bit flat by the final conclusion.

Don't get me wrong, I did like the principle character but overall the story didn't have enough going for it to keep my glued in a way that I like to be when I sit back to be entertained. It is OK and as long as you don't want something with multiple twists within you should be OK. But overall, its one that you may feel happier about renting from your library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Steampunk Story, 5 Oct 2013
This review is from: A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) (Mass Market Paperback)
From the very start I was hooked. This is Steampunk world building at its best. The writing is great, the characters are great and the sense of mystery is entrancing.

A superb, complex and believable Steampunk world comes to life on these pages. The technologies are inspiring, the world a dark, dark place, especially if you fall foul of the Steam Barons. The author has taken inspiration from Sherlock Holmes and really made it work, weaving it wonderfully into this story - and the result is quite splendid.

The characters have depth, with flaws all round, and they grow and change so much throughout this book. It was slightly infuriating knowing more than each of the characters at times but the narrative really works for this story.

The ending was not what I expected, which is actually excellent. It kept me thinking, wondering... And what a twist! It left me quite sad and surprisingly bereft. Is it any wonder I picked up the second book straight away?

A splendid Steampunk tale infused with magic and darkness.
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A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair)
A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair) by Emma Jane Holloway (Mass Market Paperback - 24 Sep 2013)
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