Tired of traditional fantasy novels? Want something different out of the Sherlock Holmes trend? Present shopping for a teen and out of ideas? Why not invest in local literature with Ottawa’s Éric Desmarais and his novel A Study in Aether: A Baker City Mystery! We at The Nerd is the Word got an exclusive read of this little gem of a mystery and are incredibly excited to share our discovery with you.
A Study in Aether: A Baker City Mystery is available on Amazon in both Kindle format and Paperback!
Headed to your local chain bookstore to purchase the current bestselling novel converted high budget film? If you feel like literature aimed at young adults has been over hyped lately, why not look for something a little closer to home? Ottawa is home to many authors who travel our streets incognito. We, their fellow residents, are mostly unaware of their existence, as they strive in silence to publish quality works that the over saturated and largely foreign market rarely notices. It is up to us to nourish the local nerdy culture and encourage writers to continue creating.
A Study in Aether
The imaginary town of Baker, Ontario is obsessed with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. What used to be an in-depth tourism stunt takes on a perilous new significance when a real mystery, worthy of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel, strikes the small city. A missing English teacher, swarms of killer kittens, a cafeteria condemned under strange circumstances? Elizabeth Coderre is a prodigy mystery solver who, despite her elders encouraging her to stay away, can’t ignore these weird events. Alongside her loyal friends, Jackie and Angela, she must delve into Baker’s secrets and discover a world where detective work meets magical power.
The Ontarian Landscape
A Canadian writer often holds perspectives into traditional and philosophical views of our region that can truly speak to us as readers. This experience of seeing and feeling ‘home’ in a novel is both a cozy and refreshing experience for local bookworms. Éric Desmarais creates a small Ontarian municipality that Ottawa residents can easily slip into. The Victorian architecture in the urban areas in Baker seem date back to the Confederation, giving the town a strictly “Canadian” Sherlockian feel. Much of the mythology surrounding Baker is built from an environment a Canadian reader can easily identify with. On your travels through an urban centre’s snow saturated winter, have you ever noticed the large number of abandoned gloves and mittens left around? Desmarais has a magical explanation for that!
Real Young Adults
The characters of Elizabeth, Jackie and Angela feel like true teenagers. If you are tired of seeing 15 year old characters unrealistically portrayed as devoted soldiers and revolutionaries in mainstream young adult fiction, Desmarais’ story is for you. Elizabeth is firstly a 9th grade student who struggles with genuine issues that affect the youth of today, such as obesity, bullies and homework. Meanwhile, strange grizzly bears and cackling evil witches roam the streets as more Baker residents mysteriously disappear. Even when magical evil-doers threaten her entire town, Elizabeth’s more down to earth problems don’t simply cease to be. She still spends mental energy wondering what to wear to the school dance, or whether her crush might return her feelings. This jumping back and forth between real life and magical complications is understandably difficult to juggle, yet Desmarais expertly shows us that even though magical realms exist, the world still keeps on turning.
Elizabeth, like any teen, is somewhat trapped between childhood and adulthood; wanting to be included in grown-up discussions, but still benefitting from the protection and oversight of her elders. This is an issue Desmarais’ target audience can easily relate to; the frustration of being kept in the dark for your own good, while not fully trusting that adults can solve your problems for you. This is what makes this heroine special! Despite her many flaws, when adults fail to unravel the alarming menace in Baker City, Elizabeth steps up with every intent of defeating the dangers that threaten her town, and saving everyone.
Let’s be Honest
Éric Desmarais’, A Study in Aether: A Baker City Mystery is remarkable, but hits a few snags. A few more clichés than this reviewer can handle seem to populate this little mystery. Desmarais is quite adept at creating exciting and detailed scenes, but the transition between these events can be a bit awkward. In some cases, the plot’s tension seems to be poorly managed and revelations that should be exciting instead fall flat. For a first novel, this author has done a stupendous job, yet some of the cheesy dialogue and predictable, inelegantly-worded passages could, in future works, be polished a bit better.
Despite these little drawbacks, we at The Nerd is the Word find ourselves eager to find out more about Elizabeth and her friends. Many little loose ends and hints make this reviewer very curious. Theories as to the true identity of characters, possible future events and unexplained appearances have already begun forming.
More to Come!
The Baker City Mysteries are not anywhere close to being finished! Eric Desmarais has supposedly two more novels in the final editing stages and would like to see the character of Elizabeth continue to grow up and solve magical mysteries for a possible total of nine novels. Keep your eyes peeled!
The Nerd is the Word recommends A Study in Aether for young readers and adults alike!
Make sure to stop by Éric Desmarais’ Website!
A library of short stories is on display as well as the JenEric Designs line of products that include geeky coffee, amazingly crocheted nerdy things, and more!