Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A STUDY IN ASHES by Emma Jane Holloway

Publisher:  Del Rey
Published:   December 31, 2013
Genre:   Steampunk, Fantasy
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina Gina@loveromancesandmorereviews.com

Four -1/2 Hearts

A year after her friend Imogen fell into a Sleeping Beauty-like sleep Evelina Cooper is trapped in a different kind of world.  While she yearned to attend University and has finally achieved that goal, she is the embodiment of “be careful what you wish for.”  While she enjoys the process of learning and at times feels as if she is coming closer to understanding the marriage of science and magic, her life is not her own.  Restrained by silver bracelets, placed on her by the Gold King, Jasper Keating, her movements are restricted, painfully so.  He has forbidden her, as well, from contact with her beloved Uncle Sherlock.  Yes, that Sherlock, as in Holmes.  But the famed detective and his intelligent and creative niece have found ways of communicating.  Magic users, those of “the blood” are still pursued, captured and either killed her sent to what is referred to as Her Majesty’s laboratories.  But the queen is little more than a pawn of men like Keating and the other “kings”.  But her determined uncle has a plan, one that may reunite her with a man from her past. 

As war brews between the self-proclaimed kings of England, rebel forces continue to grow.  Indeed, they rally behind a man known only as “The Schoolmaster.”  Gold King Keating sends his son-in-law, who once loved Evelina, to be her jailor and together then venture to the laboratories ostensibly to put down the rebellion.  But once Evelina arrives Sherlock Holmes manages to spirit her away…or does he? 

Characters long thought dead and gone affect the changes wrought by the pending war and Evelina finds herself in the middle of the battle.  Can she survive as the woman she wants to be?

Wow.  In a word. Wow.  I thought with its 662 page length there were be moments or chapters in Emma Jane Holloway’s A STUDY IN ASHES where I’d have a chance to catch my reading breath.  No way!  This story starts with a bang—figuratively and literally—and doesn’t come up for air until the very last page is read.  Even then, threads now seemingly woven together appear on the verge of unwinding with just a tug. 

I wasn’t overly impressed with A STUDY IN DARKNESS, book two of this series and was on the fence about continuing.  Creepy Chuckie-like dolls, sorcery and Twilight Zone-esque events just aren’t my thing in reading.  I am so I continued on with the series because A STUDY IN ASHES is a fantastic read.  Emma Jane Holloway doesn’t just tell a good story, she paints each page with vivid detail.  If you think in terms of the Wizard of Oz and the black and white of Kansas contrasted with the dramatic and colourful imagery of the Emerald City you will have an idea of how Ms. Holloway brings the story to life.  But you want to read and see it for yourself.  It is not a quick read for the simple reason that each sentence enhances the imagery of the sentence before while at the same time firing your own imagination. 

There is the hint at the end that the story may go on but there is no indication that this is so on her website.  You do want to read all three books of the series and this is one series that does need to be read in order.  Don’t let the sheer size of the books put you off—the stories are so well told you will be entertained from the first word till the last.

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

No comments: