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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Monday, September 23, 2013

an enticing addition to the steampunk/mystery milieux!

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane Holloway

So first we had all things Austen, both on and off stage and in alternate universes. Now, it seems we have the off stage world surrounding Sherlock with a hitherto unknown member of his family, his niece Evelina. We've been bombarded by film and television recently, why not an alternate Victorian era populated by loved figures from yesteryear amidst steampunk paraphernalia and intrigue. As Evelina says towards the end, 'this is a time when steam barons dominate the Empire.'
Corporate monopolies and bullying,  political clout, bribery and corruption, the pursuit of alternative fuels, the determination of those who have, to hold at all cost.  Obviously nothing has changed in this alternate world. Even the great Sherlock is threatened.

We enter into Evelina's world via her stealthy sojourn in the attics of Lord Bancroft's house where stored belongings, 'made elephantine humps in the darkness. Attics were for storage...memories and the occasional secrets.' (I did enjoy this opening descriptor.)
Evelina is staying with her best friend Imogene. She is using the attics as a place to work on her automations. Evelina, we find out has an, 'unladylike fascination with mechanics'  she has imbued with magic. In this world magic is deemed immoral and illegal. Evelina has inherited magic from her circus grandmother's side of the family. Attics indeed are places for secrets!
She is nearly caught by grooms sent to find trunks containing Lord Bancroft's souvenirs  from Austria--a dismembered female body--an automation. The magic that emanated from the clockwork girl felt very wrong to Evelina.  More secrets! Secrets that could bind and destroy.
This fateful evening brings together many events. The murder of a maid, the advent of a friend from her circus days lurking in her bedroom, the involvement of Lord Bancroft, even Imogen's brother Tobias' mad scheme with automotive giant squid. Toby is the last person to see the maid Grace alive.  All events connive to fling Evelina into a burgeoning mystery of murder and foul sorcery. She is hemmed about by powerful entities from the steam barons to the uncomfortable Dr. Magnus. Evelina determines to solve the mysteries.
By the way, it took me a while to understand the significance of oath occasionally muttered by several of the young men, ' Disconnect me!' Then the light went on.
Her friend Imogene is intelligent, stalwart and endearing, game for anything. Beneath her fragility is a will of iron.
Some mysteries are solved, others left hanging but as Evelina whispers to Imogen, 'this isn't the end...not by a long shot.' 
I for one am ready to leap into the book 2, A Study in Darkness, I could barely put 'Silks' down, Darkness beckons!

A NetGalley ARC

After having viewed a television program, The Mind of Leonardo'  there are gems and links to the idea of steampunk that I need to think about and investigate more.

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