Sunday, November 10, 2013

Guest Review by Isis: A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair #2) by Emma Jane Holloway

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 photo 17264584_zps0b7eedc9.jpgWhen a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.

Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.

As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper

Title: A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair #2)
Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Del Rey



Isis's Thoughts:
I would like to thank NetGalley for offering me access to works published by Del Rey, and Del Rey for granting me the chance to read this ARC all in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influences this review.

NOTE: If you have not yet read the first book in this series, "A Study in Silks," I strongly urge you to stop reading right here, and return only after you have read the first book. Unlike some series the individual books in this series do not work well as stand-alone books. There is far too much explained and set up in the first book for the second to make much sense without that information. You certainly can read this as a stand-alone if you wish, but you will be missing out on large portions of the story.
<blockquote>When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.
Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.
As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper.</blockquote>
Thankfully the sequel in the series doesn't suffer from the dreaded sequel-itis that frequently afflicts the second book in a series. This book effortlessly continues the story, picking things up again not too long after book one ended. Instead of spending what was to have been her first Season in London with her best friend Imogen, Evelina had been banished to her grandmother Holmes' country estate. However, with the Season over and much of the summer over, Evelina is invited out to Maggor's Close to spend time with her best friend Imogen. Of course it just so happens that Maggor's Close is the Gold King's country estate. Unfortunately for Evelina, before she even is there for 24 hours the Gold King, a.k.a. Jasper Keating, comes upon Tobias and Evelina kissing. Being the cold-hearted bastard he is Keating uses this indiscretion to not only threaten to ruin Evelina but to physically threaten her family, subsequently forcing her to become another one of his unwilling tools, just like Tobias before her. Too bad her task is far more dangerous than anything Tobias encounters. But then Keating needs Tobias alive to work as a maker for him, not too mention as the husband of his pregnant daughter.
Meanwhile Imogen wilts, suffering from terrible nightmares almost every evening. They are the same nightmares that plagued her so as a child. Though a few things changed over the years the real terror came from a feeling of her very soul leaving her body & being unable to return. She is also worried about her family, from the things she suspects her father may be doing, to watching her beloved brother suffer in a loveless marriage, to worrying about her younger sister's future. And she has recently been dwelling more and more on the past, back when she and her twin sister where both young and sick - before her sister died. Her thoughts, and discoveries later in the story, are the sound foundation upon which the answers to all the questions piling up stand. For such a fragile character I think that Imogen has more strength than anyone, herself included, gives her credit for. And I suspect that by the end of this series this will be visible to all.
Evelina moves into the Whitechapel district of London to better discover the answer to the task that Keating has set for her - to discover the maker working for the Blue King, a.k.a. King Coal. Everyone knows he has one, but no one seems to know who. Even the ever intrepid Evelina struggles to discover this vital piece of news. At the same time she is struggling internally, for a dark sorcerer has found her, and he is more than willing to teach her how to use her magic. As terrified of becoming like him as she is, it isn't quite enough to keep her from returning for regular lessons. Not even her fear of Nick discovering what she is doing can stop her.
Nick is back, still in love with his Evelina, regardless of the fact that she is no longer the same young hoyden he knew while they were young friends in Ploughman's Circus. But then neither is he the same boy that Evelina remembers. They have both grown up and walked their different paths, yet the paths keep crossing, and finally they succumb to the temptation to try to make a life together. The very thing that kept them apart, their wild magic, is now drawing them together as each has learned more about controlling their powers. However Nick can feel the growing strength of the darker side of Evelina's power, but is his evident concern going to be enough to sway Evelina from the dark sorcerer's side when he still has so much more to teach her?
By the end of the book several mysteries are solved for the reader, yet circumstances keep all the necessary parties from coming together to solve the mysteries for themselves. Hopefully in the next book that will change, saving several people from terrible endings, releasing Evelina & her family from Keating's clutches, and freeing the Bancroft family as well. Will all the right parties get to live full and happy lives on their own terms, or will they forever be trapped by circumstances beyond their control? This question is especially powerful given the startling, and terrifying, end to this book.

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Stars!

 photo 6897702-1_zps1983e514.jpgEver since childhood, Emma Jane Holloway refused to accept that history was nothing but facts prisoned behind the closed door of time. Why waste a perfectly good playground coloring within the timelines? Accordingly, her novels are filled with whimsical impossibilities and the occasional eye-blinking impertinence—but always in the service of grand adventure.

Struggling between the practical and the artistic—a family tradition, along with ghosts and a belief in the curative powers of shortbread—Emma Jane has a degree in literature and job in finance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest in a house crammed with books, musical instruments, and half-finished sewing projects. In the meantime, she’s published articles, essays, short stories, and enough novels to build a fort for her stuffed hedgehog

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