A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway - Fiction
Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there's a murderer to deal with--not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.
In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines--something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty's secret laboratories. What's a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she's never found out?
But then there's that murder. As Sherlock Holmes's niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.
Praise for 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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Holloway / A STUDY IN SILKS
London, April 4, 1888
10:45 p.m. Wednesday
Evelina froze, a breath half taken catching in her throat, nerves tingling down every limb. She sat unmov- ing for a long moment, searching the shadows cast by her candle on the dusty attic floorboards.
Slowly, methodically, her gaze probed each corner of the space around her. Stacks of trunks and boxes made elephantine humps in the darkness. Furniture lurked phantomlike under dust covers. Attics were for storage of the useless and forgotten, for memories and the occasional secret. The only creatures that should be moving up here were ghosts and mice. Yet she'd heard something else. Or sensed it.
Still barely daring to breathe, Evelina carefully set the minuscule piece of machinery she held back into its box, resting her tiny long-nosed pliers next to it. Her fingers lingered on the casket for a moment, caressing her brass and steel creation almost tenderly. Most nights, she retreated to the attic to work in private after the rest of Hilliard House had retired. This was the one place, the one time, she enjoyed the absolute freedom to indulge her talents. No one else came up here, especially not this late.
And yet, she heard the creak of the door at the bottom of the attic stairs, then a footfall. Someone was coming. Odd, because the household had retired early--His Lordship had declared himself and his lady in need of a quiet night in. Therefore, no one dared to so much as rustle a candy wrapper tonight.
So who was up and about? Apprehension prickled along her arms. In the privacy of her own mind, Evelina Cooper gave a very improper curse.
There were any number of reasons why a young lady, gently reared by a respectable grandmamma, did not want to be caught hiding in the attic in the dead of night. First would be the inevitable assumption that she was meeting a lover. Why was it that no one imagined a young lady might have more weighty interests?
Second, whatever trouble she got into would automatically rebound on her best friend, Imogen Roth. Hilliard House belonged to her schoolmate's high-and-mighty father, Lord Bancroft, and Evelina was a guest for the Season at Imogen's request. If she were caught doing anything even mildly scandalous, Lord B was more likely to mount both their heads on his study wall than to listen to excuses.
And an unladylike fascination with mechanics was enough to cause comment. It was time to vanish, thoroughly and quickly. She snuffed the candle with her bare fingers. Moonlight slanted through the window, painting the attic in a watery light. She gathered up the scatter of parts and tools she'd strewn about the floor and placed them into the box, careful not to make a clatter. After a last glance around, she closed the lid and silently hid the box and candle behind a rolled-up carpet leaning against the wall.
Evelina's stomach cramped with tension. There wasn't just one pair of heavy feet coming up the stairs. She definitely heard two. Damnation!
Her mind went blank for a split second, as devoid of ideas as a pristine sheet of paper. There was only the single exit. She had to hide, but where? The third reason she absolutely, categorically could not be caught was because her box didn't just hold tools; it held implements of magic. That fact would raise more questions than she was prepared to answer.
The footsteps were loud now, nearly to the top of the stairs. She could see the flash of a lantern swinging to and fro. Male voices filled the cavernous gloom. Servants, by their accents. The deep voices of big, strong brutes.
"Why the bloody hell...
A Study in Silks
By: Emma Jane Holloway