Review: A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

[Note: There will be MAJOR SPOILERS for A Study in Silks, please be sure to finish that book before you read this.]

There’s a phenomenon that I like to call the “Second Book Curse” which is when you have a trilogy of books where the first book is awesome and the third book is awesome, but the second? Well, the second book is okay, but mostly it just seems like filler for the third book.

A Study in Darkness is a great example of this phenomenon in action.

A Study in Darkness starts off with a (literal) bang when Sherlock Holmes’ house is bombed. After being kicked out of Hilliard House at the end of A Study in Silks and having been separated from Nick and Tobias, Evelina reluctantly accepts an invitation from Imogen to join her at the family’s country house for a time.

To make a long story short, kissing happens, and then suddenly Evelina finds herself in the Gold King’s pocket. He sends her to Whitechapel to spy on a fellow Steam Baron, the Blue King.

Also Jack the Ripper, you can’t have a story set in Victorian London without Jack the Ripper.

Normally I would start by talking about things I liked about the book, but in this case I actually didn’t like it very much. Oh, it starts off great with Holmes’ residence being bombed, but after that I felt like the plot slowed to a crawl. At one point, Evelina is in a tavern and I completely glossed over what was being said because it was just that dull. You would think that being stuck in Whitechapel with a killer on the loose would be a bit more exciting, but Evelina pretty much heads to Whitechapel, there’s a time lapse, and then suddenly Evelina’s fretting that she only has a week before the Gold King’s deadline… she spends time learning about magic….because that’s what you’re supposed to do on a deadline, take the time to learn magic. The book is also much more gory than the last book, and I had to admit that the state of one of the Rippers victims was definitely jarring and not really in keeping with the series so far (kind of like the rape scene in Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller).

On the plus side, minor characters like Striker get a bit more development, although the most surprising for me in terms of character development was Alice, as in the first book, she’s presented in a way that makes you think she’s “Daddy’s Little Villain”. On the minus side, we don’t get to see much of Imogen or Mouse and Bird.

Although romance was definitely a thing it book one, it definitely gets more attention in the second book. On the plus side, the love triangle is finally resolved (and I actually liked how Holloway separated her heroine from both love interests in the beginning) on the other hand, separating your love interests means that you have to listen to them whine about how they miss each other until the love triangle finally is resolved. Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I’m just tired of love triangles in general (especially love triangles that don’t end in threesomes). Bleh, moving on….

So now that I’ve discussed the good and the bad, let’s move on to the ugly. The good news is that A Study in Darkness has less disposable POCs (and Striker and Nick get character development) the bad news is that there’s a bit of fat-shaming, with the book describing just how disgustingly obese the Blue King is (to the point where he needs to use a chair to get around) it’s just completely unnecessary and gross.

Overall, I just wasn’t feeling this book. The first book wasn’t great literature, but at least it was somewhat entertaining, this book just seems like pointless filler for the exciting conclusion that will probably be the third book. I will be reviewing the third, but after such a disappointing second book I’m going to be giving this trilogy a rest for a bit.

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