Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 560 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Baskerville Affair series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. I love steampunk books and thought the idea of following a character around that was Sherlock Holme’s neice was a good one. This book has two more books planned in the series. The second book will be titled, A Study in Darkness, and is planned to have an October 2013 release. The third book will be titled, A Study in Ashes, and is planned to release in November 2013. I really enjoyed this book a lot.
Evelina was raised by her grandmother in the circus, only to find that she had another grandmother who was nobility. Her noble grandmother offers to support Evelina’s schooling and debut in society. Now Evelina is done with school and spending her time at a friend’s house, a friend whose father is a Baron. Evelina finds herself struggling to fit in with high society because of her background…not to mention the fact that Evelina can perform magic, something forbidden in society. Then a maid gets murdered and Evelina is drawn into a web of dangerous and complicated intrigue, power, and magic.
This was a very well done novel that is a blend of steampunk, mystery, and Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed it alot. The world-building is fantastic. Basically this London is run by Steam Barons, all of the vying for power and property. God help anyone who gets on the wrong side of the Steam Barons; that person will find themselves cut off from power at the least and dead at the worst. It is a complicated world of power struggles, dark magic, and intrigue and I really enjoyed it.
Evelina is an interesting character. She is struggling to be a proper English lady, but can still do the trapeze tricks she learned in the circus and has a very unladylike obsession with all things mechanical. Then there is the fact that she can do magic, something highly forbidden. She’s curious like a cat and can never leave well-enough alone. Add to this the fact that she has contact with the great Sherlock Holmes (who despises magic) and she leads a very complicated life.
Evelina is also the victim of a love triangle. A boy/man from the circus that she grew up with, Nick (who is a trick horse-rider and all around bad-boy), has appeared suddenly back into her life. Nick and Evelina share a strange connection through their magic, but Evelina wants to protect them both by staying apart. Then there is a the insufferable Tobias, her best friend’s older brother. At first Tobias seems to be a bit of a cad, but then as we get to know him better we find that him and Evelina share a love of all things mechanical.
The mystery is well done with lots of twists and turns that are unexpected but never felt contrived. Things are nicely resolved, with some strands of story left open for future books.
My only problem with this book was the length. It is really, really long. Although I enjoyed reading it, it still felt like a long read. The story is told from a number of points of view and this drags the story out longer than it needed to be. I think the book could have been tightened up a bit and it would have made for a faster pace and a more engaging read.
Overall I really enjoyed this Victorian steampunk mystery. I loved the world building and the way the Steam Barons ran everything. I enjoyed the characters; Evelina is a wonderful heroine and the tension between her and Nick and Tobias was skillfully done. The plot was wonderful too and the mystery was engaging. I do feel that the story was a bit slow at points and could have been tightened up and shortened a bit. Still it was an excellent read and I plan on reading the next two books of the series as well. Recommended to those who enjoy steampunk with some romance.