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.
Evelina Cooper has a taste for science, a gift of magic, a famous uncle (Sherlock Holmes himself), and an uncertain future. Her parents' scandalous elopement is the talk of the town, and she's fending off the attentions of both her friend Imogen's ne'er-do-well brother, Tobias, and her dashing childhood friend, circus performer Nick. Then her stay with Imogen's family for her debut season is disrupted by the murder of a servant. As they investigate the murder, Evelina and Imogen are drawn into a web of plots surrounding the steam barons who dominate London, and even Evelina's uncle may not be safe. Holloway stuffs her adventure with an abundance of characters and ideas and fills her heroine with talents and graces, all within a fun, brisk narrative. The importance of Evelina's friendship with Imogen is especially welcome, though Holmes's role in solving the central mystery gilds the lily a little too much.