A Study In Complicated Heroes
One of my favourite books for 2013 was A Study In Silks by Emma Jane Holloway, so I’m delighted to have her here today with news about her Sherlockian trilogy and a giveaway! Holloway writes fantastic characters and I’ll admit that I fell in love with a certain rakish lad named Tobias, so without further ado, I present Emma Jane’s ode to complicated heroes:
The main character of The Baskerville Affair trilogy is Evelina Cooper, the niece of Sherlock Holmes. I use “main character” loosely. There really is an ensemble cast of all ages, with plenty of steampunk wonders, intrigue, politics, magic, mystery and, of course, a tiny bit of romance. Evelina has two male friends, both of whom would like to be love interests—but she has other ideas and I could never call this a classic love triangle. Nick is a childhood sweetheart, a penniless circus performer who shares her abilities with magic, but Evelina believes she’s moved on with her life. Tobias is the son of a viscount. He’s handsome, wealthy, talented, and rich, but reckless. Both young men have their own important character arcs and change a great deal over the course of the three books. The story might start in the upper-class drawing rooms of Victorian-era Mayfair, but by the end there’s almost nothing left of the world they knew.
Of all the characters, I think I became the most invested in Tobias Roth, so let me introduce you to him. I can’t call him a hero in the traditional sense. Nor is he exactly a villain or an antihero. He’s an interesting bundle of conflict that makes me love him and want to bonk him on the head at the same time. He changes the most from start to finish and along the way he makes drastic mistakes. In some ways, it’s not his fault. Unlike Nick or Evelina, he’s led a privileged life and doesn’t have the tools to navigate the world outside his social class. His disapproving father wants him to enter into a diplomatic career, but Tobias really wants to engage in the ungentlemanly pursuit of mechanics (this is a steampunk story, after all).
In Tobias’s mind, building something is a way he can add value to the world with his own two hands—it has nothing to do with blue blood or fortune. He’s an inventor and a dreamer, with no taste for the cut-throat dishonesty he associates with life in the political arena. So, he gets together with like-minded friends to build things in a secret warehouse, party too hard, and live down to his father’s expectations.
And then Evelina comes along. Evelina’s had a crush on Tobias for a long time, but now he finally notices she’s all grown up. They have far more in common than he does with any other woman—like a love for making things. He knows she sees the potential in him, and he begins to gather his courage to strike out on his own, away from his dominating father, and make his way in the world with Evelina at his side. She’s beneath him socially and there is every chance they will be poor, but he doesn’t care. He will be a better person with her, and for the first time in his life he has a coherent plan for the future. Did I mention that Tobias has a strong romantic streak?
But there’s a murder, and scandal, and suddenly he has to make some awful, hideous choices. When the chips are down, Tobias is not a coward. This is his greatest strength and flaw—he will save the people he loves at any cost to himself. Over the course of the trilogy, that courage to sacrifice and his insistence on dragging the truth into the open, no matter what, takes him from untried young man to hero status and then some. But it’s not pretty, and he doesn’t always behave gracefully, although he does his best to make amends. Like all the characters in the story, he has to face his darkest side before he knows who he truly is. Only then is Tobias really free from the confines of his upbringing and able to realize his full potential on his own terms.
In this little biography, I think I’ve given you a taste of what The Baskerville Affair is about: twisty plots, skullduggery, and complicated characters. A Study in Silks takes place in the charmed circle of London’s wealthy families. A Study in Darkness takes Evelina to the East End and the scene of the Ripper murders. A Study in Ashes is where the coming war between the makers and the wicked steam barons comes to a head—and Tobias is right in the middle of it, blowing open the darkest secret of them all. To be honest, he surprised even me.
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The Baskerville Affair trilogy is all available now!
- A Study in Silks
- A Study in Darkness
- A Study in Ashes
A Study in Silks – Book One
Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high 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 . . .
A Study in Darkness – Book Two
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 ground of Jack the Ripper.
A Study in Ashes – Book Three
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.
Emma Jane Holloway
Ever since childhood, Emma Jane Holloway refused to accept that history was nothing but facts prisoned behind the closed door of time. Why waste a perfectly good playground coloring within the timelines? Accordingly, her novels are filled with whimsical impossibilities and the occasional eye-blinking impertinence—but always in the service of grand adventure.
Struggling between the practical and the artistic—a family tradition, along with ghosts and a belief in the curative powers of shortbread—Emma Jane has a degree in literature and job in finance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest in a house crammed with books, musical instruments, and half-finished sewing projects. In the meantime, she’s published articles, essays, short stories, and enough novels to build a fort for her stuffed hedgehog.