Review: A Study in Ashes by Jane Holloway


Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: December 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.0

Publisher Description: If being the niece of the master detective Sherlock Holmes affords Evelina Cooper any special privileges in Victorian London, she has yet to encounter them. In the final chapter of this terrific new trilogy, she must navigate a world of paranormal fantasy, romance, and mystery all on her own.

Review: This was a solid, albeit lengthy novel. Yet, even with the lengthy scene development the writer managed to keep you interested for the first half, sort of. This does not quite measure up to the seminal work of Pauline Creeden whom wrote the steampunk themed novel Armored Hearts . Evelina, Tobias and Niccolo are well developed characters moving through a well crafted story line. Bit players are also well developed within the context of short forays. The Steam Barons are appropriately nasty and manipulative which helps you root for the underdog throughout. The cover art is a little too clean for my taste and the verbage too busy. Evelina should have had some silver bangles on her wrists, aether pistols on her hips and some steampunk brass/steel accoutrements.

Reading this novel was like trying to kick start an old motorcycle. You kick and kick and kick and each time the engine almost starts. The scenes were just too lengthy leading up to the resolutions. There are finite descriptions and emotional interactions for pages and pages, then all of a sudden…BANG! Resolution. That process just slows the whole novel down. We spent chapters with Imogen inside a clock for fucks sake. I still am scratching my head as to the relevance of the Imogen/clock/crazy sister side story to the novel as a whole. The author did a great job with the destruction of the labs and some of the air battles but wasted a lot of time on filler leading up to sudden closure.

I originally gave this novel a rating of 4.5/5.0 when I was about halfway through it. I figured that it would continue along in the same vein (action, magic, nasty peeps etc.). Hopefully my favorite reviewer Khahn Tran will get the revision prior to any purchase.

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