Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 544 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Baskerville Affair
Source: eGalley from Netgalley
Rating: 5/5 stars
This is the second book in the Baskerville Affair series by Holloway I really enjoyed the first book in this series and this book was even better than the first. It is an excellent steampunk mystery read, with a fascinating world and wonderful characters. The third book, A Study in Ashes, is set to release in December 2013.
Evelina is barred from Imogen’s house and presence following the events in A Study of Silks. She finds herself living with her Uncle Sherlock and contemplating finally making her dreams of attending college come true. That is until Uncle Sherlock’s house is bombed. Shortly following this scare Evelina is invited out to a summer party in the country where Imogen, Tobias, and Alice will all be in attendance. When Evelina disgraces herself there (not entirely her fault) she finds herself in the power of the Gold King. The Gold King wants Evelina to spy for him in the desruptible area of Whitechapel.
The danger grows for Evelina when she hears news of the horrific killer, Jack the Ripper, mutilating and murdering young women in the streets of Whitechapel. Then Evelina runs into a person from the past that she thought was dead and hopes to learn more about controlling her magic from him while surviving the streets and trying to hunt down the Gold King’s foe.
The book switches point of view mainly between Evelina and Nick. Nick has turned to a sort of steampunk pirating in hopes of making a fortune that he can use to impress Evelina. Of course he gets drawn into the Rebellion and, as a side effect, becomes a target of the Steam Barons (Gold and Blue Kings especially).
This is one of the best steampunk series I have read yet. The world building here is phenomenal. There is a lot going on, but it is never confusing and I never felt like the author was info-dumping. This is just a completely believable and amazingly complex world. I love how the Steam Barons run London society and have pieced up London between themselves. There is a lot of intrigue and politics between the Steam Barons and the poor people that get drawn into their machinations.
Additionally the Rebel group that is trying to oppose the Steam Barons has a greater presence in this book. We meet some interesting new characters in connection to the Rebellion; The Schoolmaster and Mycroft Holmes. Both are mysterious and bring more questions than answers with them.
This book is much more gory than the first. The murders done by the supposed Jack the Ripper are gruesome and explained in detail. It fit well with the story (and the end of October release date). But there were a few moments where I was like…eeewwweee.
The characters themselves are easy to relate to and engaging. Evelina is an excellent heroine. She still strives to be a Victorian lady but she has no trouble doing what needs to be done. She is smart, witty, and really fun to read about.
Nick was also a fun character to read about. The steampunk pirating life fits him well. I enjoyed how he tried to support Evelina as he could, but also assumed that she knew how to take care of herself. He can be cocky, but he is also funny and amazingly tough.
As for the steampunk aspects; this book has a bit of everything. There are airships, aether powered weapons, fun mechanical devices, dazzling new inventions, and automatons. And of course the whole concept to steam-power running society. It is just exceedingly well done.
The book is beautifully written. It flows well, is paced well, and was very hard to put down. The main story line around the mystery behind the Gold King’s maker and Jack the Ripper is resolved. However many other questions remain and a new storyline is opened up at the end of this book.
Overall I enjoyed this book even more than the first book in the series. This is a spectacularly done steampunk series, with some magic, lots of mystery, and wonderful world-building. The characters are all very well done and easy to engage with. This is seriously one of the best steampunk books I have ever read and I really really loved it. I can’t wait to read A Study in Ashes! Highly recommended to steampunk fans!