A Study in Ashes (The Baskerville Affair #3)
Emma Jane Holloway
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Emma Jane Holloway
Release Date: December 31, 2013
As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, in handcuffs and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.
Not even Niccolo, the dashing pirate captain, and his sentient airship can save her. But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville Affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day—or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.
But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines—and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is…he’s dead.
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Egalley courtesy of Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for fair and honest review.
What a great end to a wonderful series! I must admit, at over 600 pages long this book took me awhile to finish but it was well worth it. There is magic, gadgetry, intrigues and treachery, love, bravery, and much more. This beautiful dark magical world, so vividly drawn throughout the series serves as a perfect backdrop to the multiple storylines explored here, each having their own unique arc and purpose. And the fabulous cast of characters does not stop to impress. At the end, A Study in Ashes serves as a perfect conclusion with a hopeful glimpse into future possibility of more stories to come.
I was quite impressed with the first two novels of The Baskerville Affair series, but the third and final chapter of this saga is even more impressive and complex than the previous two. Still full of darkness, machines, and dilemmas that many characters must face it is deliciously rich, complex, and action-packed. There is certainly a lot to take in but each story is worth its own exploration.
The beginning of the novel finds Evelina finally attending college, but the experience is far from what she imagined it to be, being that she’s a prisoner of the Gold King and her world is practically in shambles. She is cut off from all whom she loves and is in mourning as Captain Niccolo is presumed to be dead. After events of A Study in Darkness where Niccolo’s airship, Red Jack is destroyed in battle, he and his crew haven’t been heard from in a year. At the same time, Imogen had fallen into a near lifeless state and with Evelina shackled and far away only young and charming Poppy is there to help bring her sister back. And Poppy really shines here, with her sense of humor, bravery, and strong spirit she is the bright beacon, often offering a necessary reprieve from all the darkness.
“Besides Alice the fallen angel, I have a sleeping princess for a sister, a knave for a brother, an evil queen for a mother, and Papa thinks he’s Signori Machiavelli. How did I end up in this house? Poppy knew everyone complained about one’s family, but hers had to be eligible for some sort of prize. Or a scientific study. She wondered if Mr. Darwin was still writing books.” A Study in Ashes (Kindle Location 1030).
While Evelina is the heroine of the novel, a lot of the novel’s focus is also on Tobias Roth, who’s had a very interesting character journey throughout these novels, walking a thin line between villain and hero. Tobias is torn by his duties and responsibilities to his family, Alice, and his menacing father-in-law and employer, Jasper Keating, the Gold King. And at the end, it is the choices he makes that will finally define him.
With all the drama there is a bigger conflict that is ready to burst. The Steam Council is practically at each other’s throat and the rebels are readying their own plans of attack, the impending war has finally arrived and it’s going to be explosive. There are a lot of twists and turns along this pass. Some will come from the dead, while others will turn up dead; after all, it is war. Without giving much more away, if you’ve read the previous two novels in The Baskerville Affair series [which you absolutely should have] I’m certain that you will enjoy A Study in Ashes. There are many answers to be found here but some loose ends are left unexplored and perhaps it is so on purpose, as Mr. Sherlock Holmes puts it:
“Loose threads are the very essence of life.” A Study in Ashes (Kindle Location 10003).
With this explosive conclusion Ms. Holloway delivers a dark steampunk fantasy tale that is sure to satisfy.
The Baskerville Affair Series:
The Adventure of the Wollaston Ritual (The Baskerville Affair #0.5)
A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1)
The Strange and Alarming Courtship of Miss Imogen Roth (The Baskerville Affair #1.5)
A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair #2)