Evalina Cooper is Sherlock Holmes’ niece in a steampunk London where there is also magic, but that’s illegal. Steam is pretty illegal too, because all the steam is controlled by the steam barons, particularly the Gold King, who’s embroiled in trouble with missing Greek artifacts. Evalina’s staying with the family of her girlfriend Imogen, who has a mysterious illness and is trying to find a husband in the London Season, while she tries to balance her past as a circus performer and her present as a lower uppercrust lady. This is encapsulated by her love triangle between Imogen’s elder brother Tobias, who secretly makes steam inventions, and Nick, a magic wielding knife thrower. Meanwhile, servants are turning up dead, with magic clinging to them, and a dark magician skulks up with a secret connecting to Tobias’ alcoholic father’s past and…
And that’s just a spoiler free summary of when I stopped reading, around the 215th page mark.
I’m in absolute shock that there can already be three books in the series, because this book reads like every idea the author has ever had was included. That’s not to say A Study in Silks is badly written, there are a lot of good ideas, but it’s too much. It’s too long. Too many side plots. Too many points of view. If this was 300 pages with just Evalina narrating the mystery of Grace’s death? Well, I wouldn’t have abandoned it.
Everyone says it gets better around 80-85% through, but I shouldn’t have to try that hard for something that’s supposed to be fun.