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.
A Study in Ashes is the third installment in The Baskerville Affair. Like any good high fantasy novel, Ashes is filled with characters who you can't just ignore because there are too many points of view. Although the book is centered around Sherlock Holmes niece Evelina Cooper, it is characters like Nick, Tobias Roth, Prince Edmond, Poppy, Imogen, Alice and yes, even Sherlock and Dr. Holmes that you need to pay attention to or you end up missing out on important hints of what is too happen next.
A Study in Ashes finds Evelina at the university where she has become intertwined, (basically a slave) to the Gold King Jasper Keating after making a fateful decision at the end of A Study in Darkness and forcing her to wear silver bracelets that restrict her movements. Having made her bed, it is time for Evelina to focus not only on her studies, but also a way to understand her magical gifts she's been born with. Evelina finds herself the object of a character that readers of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries have come to know if Professor Moriarty. The one concern for Evie this entire series has been her inner darkness that has been cultivated by Magnus to the point where she doesn't know if she can hold onto her true self or not.
Yet, the story isnt' fully centered on the shoulders of Evelina. Imogen Roth along with Evelina's creation mouse and bird, has her own terrifying adventure. I think the one character that I really enjoyed reading about was 15 year old Poppy Roth. Poppy is headstrong, determined, unwilling to give up on Imogen, and understands more about life that anyone gives her credit for. Her adventures with Alice Keating-Roth really made for an interesting an enjoyable story. I think Poppy is the future of the Roth family and it would have been interesting to peek in on her in a few years to see what other adventures she gets involved in.
Ashes cumulates with a knock down battle between the Steam Council and Prince Edmonds rebellion to take back England. I think readers will find the battle agreeable and abrupt. With Silk being 672 pages in length, I was worried that the final installment would trim down some of the storylines. I am kind of sad at the ending of Ashes with how Evelina and Sherlock leave things. While I agree it is time for Evie to get on with her own life, it would have been nice to have one final adventure that she could have shared with Sherlock and Dr. Watson.
A Study in Ashes leaves more than a few questions especially about the fate of Professor Moriarty, and Tobias Roth. What will happen to Evie and Nick now that they have a new job? What will happen with Sherlock and his concerns about the Dark Kingdom? I would hope that Holloway would have another story put away for another time so that we can wrap up this series in a tight little bow instead of leaving unanswered questions.
Author - Emma Jane Holloway
Title - A Study in Ashes (The Baskerville Affair # 3)
Publisher - Del Rey
Released - December 31, 2013
Genre - Steampunk, Alt Historical Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback 672 pages
Recvd via Netgalley from publisher