A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway - Fiction
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 grounds of Jack the Ripper.
Praise for Emma Jane Holloway's A Study in Silks
"This book has just about everything: magic, machines, mystery, mayhem, and all the danger one expects when people's loves and fears collide. I can't wait to return to the world of Evelina Cooper!"--Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
"As Sherlock Holmes's niece, investigating murder while navigating the complicated shoals of Society--and romance--in an alternate Victorian England, Evelina Cooper is a charming addition to the canon."--Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel's Legacy series
"Holloway takes us for quite a ride, as her plot snakes through an alternate Victorian England full of intrigue, romance, murder, and tiny sandwiches. Full of both thrills and frills."--Nicole Peeler, author of the Jane True series
"A Study in Silks is a charming, adventurous ride with a heroine who is both clever and talented. The brushes with the Sherlock Holmes mythos only add to the fun of this tale, and readers are bound to fall in love with Evelina and the London she inhabits."--Philippa Ballantine, author of Geist
"In A Study in Silks, Emma Jane Holloway has created a wonderful reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes mythos set in a late-Victorian Britain ruled by nefarious industrial titans called steam barons. Holloway's clever writing, attention to detail, and sublime characters forge a fascinating world that combines brass-plated steampunk technology with magic. By turns a coming-of-age story, a gas-lamp thriller, and a whimsical magical fantasy, A Study in Silks is the premiere novel of an author to watch."--Susan Griffith, author of the Vampire Empire series
"Holloway stuffs her adventure with an abundance of characters and ideas and fills her heroine with talents and graces, all within a fun, brisk narrative."--Publishers Weekly
"Splendid . . . The characters are thoroughly charming and the worldbuilding is first-rate."--RT Book Reviews (four stars)
From the Paperback edition.
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August 1, 1888
5:30 a.m. Wednesday
What if the skies never cleared and his quarry slipped past, swathed in cloud like a bride beneath her veil?
Or what if the enemy burst forth like a vengeful ghost, spewing a fiery retribution of lead and flame? Indeed, an airship with that much cargo would have guns aplenty on board.
There were a thousand what-ifs the captain of the Red Jack could not avoid, but that was the price Nick paid for this new life on the knife-edge of risk. But as an orphan abandoned to the circus--perhaps a Gypsy by his dark features, or perhaps something even less welcome in the world--his existence had been one gamble after another. Plundering a ship twice the size of his own craft was just one more.
Nick had called his magic earlier and raised a vision of where his quarry--the Leaping Hind--would pass, but something had gone amiss. By now the Hind should have sailed into view, engines groaning beneath the weight of all that wealth. She would be coming in off the coast, flying low and with holds crammed with clockwork, gears, and costly parts from the German states--a queen's ransom in shining brass.
Nick shut his eyes and listened, giving up on sight. The engines of his ship were silent as it drifted with the wind. The creak of rigging was a comforting chorus, as if the Red Jack muttered to itself as it waited. Condensation dripped from the lines. He could hear the footsteps of his men moving around the ship--Digby at the helm, Beadle giving orders to the bosun and the boy, Striker cursing at some piece of equipment. Through the fresh, clear air, Nick caught the scent of gunpowder and grease.
"Athena," Nick muttered under his breath. "Do you sense anything?"
There are birds, the air deva replied from her place of honor at the prow. Devas did not have a voice exactly, or language, though that was how Nick perceived it. The ash rooks.
"Anything else?" The rooks were always near, looking for something dead to eat. They were as much pirates as the men.
Captain Niccolo is impatient, Athena chided. For shame. A successful thief bides his time.
The elemental spirit--trapped in a half-melted metal cube--seemed female, although she possessed no physical form of her own. Before the cube had been stripped of all its golden decorations, it had been known to scholars as Athena's Casket--an ancient Greek navigation device. Nick had started calling the deva Athena, and the name had stuck. She was the soul of the airship, its intelligence and vital force, and she made the Red Jack unique. No other ship, much less pirate ship, had a deva on its crew, and only Nick could speak to her.
Not that those conversations always went smoothly.
"I'm not impatient," he growled. "I'm concerned."
You are impatient. Your thoughts buffet me like a gale. There is no need.
"I have buyers waiting for what the Hind carries."
All that metal men prize so highly. Dull stuff. But then she was a creature of air.
"Metal makes machines. Machines make power."
And that power--heat, light, pumps to drive clean water into streets and villages--was a necessity of life. The steam barons ran the utility companies as well as the railways, dockyards, and most factories that produced weapons or mechanical parts. They were even branching into the defense industry and the telegraph. And where the barons took an interest, competition was quite literally crushed. No company dared to challenge their monopoly.
To make matters worse, conspicuous consumption of heat and light had become a hallmark of status among the gentry, and that drove up prices and left the poor to...
A Study in Darkness
By: Emma Jane Holloway