Monday, February 17, 2014

A STUDY IN DARKNESS by Emma Jane Holloway

Publisher:  Del Rey
Published:   October 29, 2013
Genre:   Fantasy, Steampunk, Horror
Book format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher   
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Evelina Cooper’s childhood friend has turned pirate.  But not your run of the mill, sailing across the ocean pirate.  He, with the help of the mysterious Athena, rules the skies.

Evelina meanwhile has returned to London after doing her time of penance at her grandmother Holmes.  But when she arrives at her Uncle Sherlock’s door she is greeted with a rather disconcerting bomb blast.

A letter arrives from Evelina’s dear friend, Imogen, asking her to come to the country to spend some time with her. While she misses her friend the prospect of running into her former lover, Imogen’s brother, Tobias, raises a rather unpleasant spectre.  Anticipating her refusal, Imogen assures Evelina that Tobias will not be in residence.  With a lighter heard she heads to the county estate where Imogen is staying. 

But despite his engagement to Alice Keating—a match he never sought—when Tobias learns Evelina is in residence he cannot resist and rushes to join her.  Happy at being reunited Evelina and Tobias find their way to each other’s arms…but their joy is short lived when Alice’s doting rather, the Gold King, discovers them together.  The price to keep their families safe they agree to the Gold King’s terms.  Evelina is forced to embark on a journey not only into the dredges of London, but into a world of dark magic where even Nick with all his skill in the air or Sherlock Holmes cannot save her.

Emma Jane Holloway’s A STUDY IN DARKNESS follows book 1 of the Baskerville Affair, A STUDY IN SILKS, closely in time.   While A STUDY IN SILKS a rather hopeful book with the bloom of young love between the characters, book 2 is a very, very dark story.  There were any number of times I wanted to put the book down for the elements of sheer horror in some of the pages.  This is no light-hearted fantasy but takes the reader down the darkest alleys of London and a person’s mind.  That said, I started the book on a Saturday night and pretty much read it straight through till Monday morning.  One would think the 531 pages would be a long read, but the story is consuming.  You might even wonder, especially when you read the last paragraph, if Magnus has woven you into the story so that you cannot put the book down.

If you ask anyone who really knows me they would tell you the likelihood of me choosing to read a story with sorcerers, dark magic and creepy Chuckie-like dolls is pretty much nil.  They really are so not my thing.  But I didn’t stay up reading till the end because of the creep-factor.  It was clearly an intense and entertaining story. 

Did I say entertaining?  Yes, I did.  It’s not entertaining like a feel good movie.  Far from it. But rather from Ms. Holloway’s wonderful story-telling style.  As I mentioned in my review of A STUDY IN SILKS, she has some entertaining quips and truly fascinating characters.  Even at the very end where she leaves readers dangling – a true cliff hanger that normally turns me off on an author and a series, I knew there was no other way to end it.  That said, I wouldn’t be saying that if I didn’t already have book 3, A STUDY IN ASHES, at the top of my TBR and ready to read.  A STUDY IN DARKNESS is not a frivolous or remotely happy read.  It is dark and filled with turmoil.  But if you read book 1 – which was a super read – you won’t want to miss this one.  I’ll be checking back soon about book 3.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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