When you’re talking Victorian steampunk, London, and Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper is never far from the imagination. Fog, twisting alleyways, and one of the most compelling cases in crime history are inevitably bound together.
The second book of The Baskerville Affair trilogy—A Study in Darkness—sees the heroine, Evelina Cooper, go under cover in the worst parts of London only to encounter the famous murderer. She’s alone, trapped, and fighting to save those she loves with nothing but her wits and the scraps of magic at her command. Of course, her uncle Holmes is on the case, too, but neither of them begin to suspect the real identity of the villain—or that the Whitechapel murderer is hardly the most dangerous creature haunting London’s poorest streets—until their future hangs on the edge of the killer’s blade.
When I was writing Darkness, I went to London to see the Ripper’s hunting grounds near the Tower of London. Many of the sites are gone, but not all of them. The tavern where the ill-fated women drank is still there, as is Mitre Square—the scene of Catherine Eddowes’s death—and many of the old brick structures that stood back in 1888. At night, with the cool, damp autumn air nipping at fingers and nose, it’s not hard to imagine the past is a whisper away. And it was just not the story of the Ripper lurking in those shadows, but the thousands of other men and women—the match girls, anarchists, sailors, dock workers, and suffragettes that walked those alleyways. It was a dramatic age, filled with more stories than any author could ever hope to write.
But steampunk is more than history—it’s fantasy, too. As A Study in Darkness takes the action to the streets, it also sails into the clouds with the Red Jack and a crew of airship pirates. I’ll just say that the Indomitable Niccolo has found a whole new level of roguery, and you’d better hang on to your spyglass. He has another chance to win Evelina’s heart, and this time he has a ship and crew to his name. It’s a good day to be a pirate . . . until he lands in the midst of a rebel plot. There are nefarious villains, wicked devices, a sorcerer wielding death magic, and an automaton ballet. At last the players in the Baskerville Affair begin to step into the gaslight, and not all of them are human.
A Study in Darkness is packed with tricks and even more treats for the reader. I couldn’t be more excited about the release date for this book – October 29, just two days before Halloween! Could it be any more fitting?
What makes you think of steampunk—or the Victorian age—and Halloween together? Dracula? Jekyll and Hyde?
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The Baskerville Affair trilogy
- A Study in Silks (available now)
- A Study in Darkness (available October 29)
- A Study in Ashes (available December 31)
A Study in Silks
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
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.
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.