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I Belong

Review: A Study in Ashes by Emma Jane Holloway

Study in AshesTitle: A Study in Ashes

Author: Emma Jane Holloway

Genre: Steampunk

Series: The Baskerville Affair (Book #3)

Publication Date: December 31, 2013

Format: Paperback, 662 Pages

ISBN-10: 0345537203 (Del Rey/Random)

ISBN-13: 978-0345537201 (Del Rey/Random)

Reviewed by: Steph


As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, in handcuffs and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.

Not even Niccolo, the dashing pirate captain, and his sentient airship can save her. But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville Affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day—or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.

But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines—and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is…he’s dead.

Quick & Dirty: An addicting conclusion to the Baskerville Affair trilogy, full of action and all the characters I have grown to love.

Opening Sentence: “You are not welcome here,” said the man in the quietly understated brown suit.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I was very interested to see how everything was going to get wrapped up in this final installment of The Baskerville Affair. For the most part, I was very satisfied with how everything turned out. While there were some slow moments, this book moved much quicker than book 2, and there was a lot more action, which led to a much more fulfilling reading experience.

Tensions are rising in England. There’s a war brewing among the leaders of the Steam Council, and no one knows who they can trust. Public unrest is also brewing, as the common people grow tired of being ruled by the steam barons. The Schoolmaster and his rebellion are almost ready to make their move. Who will come out on top in the end?

Evelina Cooper has finally reached her dream of going to college, albeit at the expense of remaining under Jasper Keating’s thumb. He’s fitted her with bracelets that hamper her magic. Any attempt to leave the school grounds is met with unimaginable pain emanating from the cuffs. On the bright side, Evelina has made the acquaintance of one professor who actually supports her desire to learn more about science, one Professor Moriarty. But even being able to conduct her own scientific experiments can not ease the restlessness in her heart. She needs to be able to use her magic, but how will she free herself from the bracelets? Will she ever be free of Jasper Keating?

Imogen Roth is in a bit of a pickle, trapped in an unknown dimension, haunted by the spirit of her dead twin, who will do anything to make it back to the land of the living. With the help of Mouse and Bird, Imogen must figure out how to defeat Anna and make it back to the real world and the man she loves.

My favorite parts in the book would probably have to go to those narrated by Poppy, as she tries to figure out what’s happened to Imogen. I had to admire this 15 year old who is forced to confront forces she doesn’t understand in order to save the sister she loves. She knows that people underestimate her, but she doesn’t let that get her down. I really wish we had seen more of her in books one and two. There are a lot of other narrators as well, making it hard to name an official main character. While the title should conceivably go to Evelina, she really isn’t in the book regularly until after the halfway point. I didn’t necessarily think this was a bad thing, but it did feel a little odd.

There is a ton going on here, which is both good and bad. On the good side, it made the book hard to put down and had me wishing there was more time in my lunch hour for me to keep reading. On the down side, when you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy and fighting the urge to sleep all the time, a dense book is not always the easiest thing to read, so it took me a lot longer to read this than normal. Readers should be prepared for a long book that does require concentration.

All in all, this was a very satisfying end to the trilogy. All the unanswered questions I had at the end of book 2 were answered. Some new plot threads are introduced, leaving things open for a potential new series, one that I would be very interested in reading. Those who enjoyed the first two books in this series should find themselves very satisfied with its conclusion!

Notable Scene:

Tobias’ hand was turning cold. A pang of concern caught at her, thinking it was too bad he was worrying over nothing. But then again, the entire room was starting to get chilly–no, downright frozen. Evelina snapped to attention, her own magic suddenly on alert. Wood had stopped talking, but she could still see a faint mist where his breath warmed the air. Who would have thought? Something is here after all. Evelina reached out with her senses, tentatively touching the energy in the room. There were eight normal, healthy presences there, a few burning more brightly than others. So, some of the society members, including Wood and Miss Barnes, probably had a drop of the Blood. Nothing about that was worrisome.

But they were not alone. The darkness in her magic stirred. It wasn’t just hunger; it was the part of her that sensed danger soonest, and it knew instinctively how to fight.

“There is someone here looking for you, Miss Cooper,” Wood said softly. His voice was rounded with a slight lilt, as if he’d come from Cornwall. “The entity says you were looking for her.”

Evelina sucked in her breath, a quick, desperate inhalation. There was only one female she’d been looking for. “Imogen?”

The Baskerville Affair:

1. A Study in Silks

2. A Study in Darkness

3. A Study in Ashes


FTC Advisory: Del Rey/Random House provided me with a copy of A Study in Ashes. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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