The Clockwork Scarab
by Colleen Gleason
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: Yes
Reviewed by: Kate | Source: Edelweiss
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.
Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims
THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB had a lot of potential – the niece and sister of famous literary characters! steampunk! Egyptian mythology! – and while it lived up to some of my expectations, I was slightly disappointed with parts of it as well. The very first thing I’ll mention is that the book description is a bit misleading- Mina and Evaline didn’t know each other before the book started, so they were barely rivals (even if they did dislike each other after meeting), and they definitely weren’t fending off advances from three gentlemen (because I would barely call their conversations advances and I can’t even remember a third gentleman) and they are both definitely already in the family business (even if Evaline hasn’t managed to kill a vampire yet). It does get right the bit about the mystery, though.
THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB brought to mind The Parasol Protectorate series, with double the heroines and not as much cleverness. Since Mina and Evaline (Holmes and Stoker, respectively) switch off telling the story, it was hard to get engaged with either of them. They were both fun and interesting characters though, Mina with her inventions and scientific sleuthing, and Evaline with her inherited vampire hunting skills. I felt Mina was a more fleshed out character than Evaline, and as a result, I liked her narration better. I also enjoyed her little barely there flirtation with the detective. It was cute and the perfect amount of boy/girl interaction for this story, since the mystery was clearly the focus. I do wish I had gotten as much of a feel for Evaline as I had for Mina, because there seemed like there could have been a lot of possible depth there, and more back story that could have been delved into.
My biggest complaint is the random plot line of Dylan, a secondary character who became a friend of Mina’s. I felt it was totally unnecessary to the book. Without spoiling anything- I have a threshold of suspending disbelief. And Dylan’s plotline crossed that threshold in the world Gleason created. His being there didn’t seem to make sense and he didn’t seem to add much. My other issue is that the mystery didn’t feel very resolved at the end. They never really confirmed who the villain was, and Dylan’s plotline didn’t get tied up, and as a result I felt a little unsatisfied.
I’m certainly curious to see where the Stoker & Holmes series goes. As a first book, THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB was a good opener, even if it wasn’t perfect. The world was creative and I want to see where the relationship with Mina and the detective goes, and find out if Evaline ever gets to kill a vampire- any of which would be enough to bring me back for book number two.
- The Clockwork Scarab
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