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I Belong

Review: A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

Study in DarknessTitle: A Study in Darkness

Author: Emma Jane Holloway

Genre: Steampunk

Series: The Baskerville Affair (Book #2)

Publication Date: October 29, 2013

Format: Paperback, 513 Pages

ISBN-10: 034553719X (Del Rey/Random)

ISBN-13: 978-0345537195 (Del Rey/Random)

Reviewed by: Steph


When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.

Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.

As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper.

Quick & Dirty: Sherlock Holmes’ niece finds herself in the midst of another investigation, having to work for the Gold King in order to protect her uncle. While the story had some dragging moments, it is still a good follow up to book one and leaves the reader eager for book 3.

Opening Sentence: What if the skies never cleared and his quarry slipped past, swathed in cloud like a bride beneath her veil?

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I enjoyed the first book in this series featuring Sherlock Holmes’ niece, so I was looking forward to seeing where book 2 would take me. For the most part, I enjoyed it just as much as book 1, although I did feel it dragged a bit more, and I had some issues with Evelina this time around. With the way it ended though, this book did away with any misgivings I had and left me very eager to see what was going to happen next.

Evelina has spent the last few months avoiding thinking about Tobias Roth and the heartbreak she is going through, especially once news of Tobias’ engagement to the Gold King’s daughter reaches her ears. While spending time with her Uncle Sherlock, she helps stop a man from killing Sherlock with a bomb. While dealing with the aftermath of that incident, Evelina receives an invitation from her best friend (and Tobias’ sister) Imogen inviting her to a hunt. She swears Tobias will not be present, so Evelina jumps at the chance to spend time with her friend. Of course, all can’t go as planned, and Evelina ends up running into Tobias. They end up being caught in a compromising position by the Gold King himself, who blackmails Evelina into doing some investigative work for him. He wants to know who the Blue King’s secret employee is. Evelina has until Tobias’ wedding to find out, or something awful with happen to Sherlock. Her investigation will lead her into the dangerous part of London, where a madman who calls himself Jack the Ripper has begun a killing spree. Will Evelina be able to meet the Gold King’s deadline? Will she be able to keep herself safe?

Imogen, meanwhile is having problems of her own. Not only has she been forbidden to see the man she loves, but she has begun having nightmares again. The nightmares put her in the body of a killer, and she must watch each horrific murder as a silent spectator. She then sees in the newspaper that the killing actually happened. Will she be able to figure out what’s going on? Will she be able to keep her sanity?

I was most entranced with Imogen’s storyline and wish it had gotten a little more focus. I really love how Imogen, despite her physical ailments, is strong willed and refuses to let her family stand in the way of her happiness with Bucky. Granted, nightmares coming true has been done before, but it felt fresh here in the way it was presented, and the actual cause for Imogen’s link to the killer is truly unique, and I did not see it coming.

Evelina, on the other hand, really annoyed me this time around. She’s supposed to be a smart girl, and yet, some of her actions here struck me as really naïve, especially in regards to her actions toward Magnus. I found myself often asking out loud “What are you doing” and then rolling my eyes when Evelina inevitably discovers that the action she took was not a wise move. Also, it seemed like her feelings flipped pretty easily from Tobias to Nick. In the first book, I felt like the readers were being led towards preferring Tobias over Nick. In this installment, that’s completely reversed, and it just felt a little abrupt to me.

While there were definitely times where the story lagged and the book felt a little long, for the most part, this was another enjoyable tale about Sherlock Holme’s niece. There are many characters here, and some of their fates are left in the balance by the end of the novel. What better way to set up the final installment of this trilogy? I for one am very excited to see what happens!

Notable Scene:

Before her was a gate about ten feet high, and something was on the sidewalk before it, almost at her feet. Imogen could see the shape, but she didn’t want to look closely. She concentrated instead on other things–the row housing to one side, the big building, maybe a school or a hospital, to the other. Some part of her knew with gut-churning urgency that looking would be bad. But this was a nightmare, and so her chin tilted down, her eyes refusing to squeeze shut.

I looked inside, said the presence, and I couldn’t find anything that answered my question.

The thing on the ground was–had been–a woman, her skirts pulled up to show a savage wound to her belly. Imogen squinted, her mind not making sense of the shadowy ruin, and her gaze quickly skittered away to the woman’s face. Like the woman from the other dream, this person wasn’t young. Her black straw bonnet had rolled a little distance away, and Imogen could see gray in the woman’s hair.

And she could see the seeping slash at the woman’s throat. She’s still bleeding! That meant there was a chance she was still alive.

Imogen knelt, bending over the woman’s face. She heard a faint gasp of breath, and saw the glitter of her eyes. Imogen lifted her hand to cover the wound, maybe stop the bleeding, and saw that it was already covered in blood. The woman’s eyes flared in panic, a horrible sound emerging from her ruined throat. Reflexively, Imogen looked down at her own body.

Her other hand held a knife.

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 Darkness. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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