**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Series: Stoker and Holmes #1
Published by Chronicle Books on September 17, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult
AMAZON • B&N • BOOK DEPOSITORY • Goodreads
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 by Colleen Gleason is an entertaining YA steampunk featuring Sherlock Holmes’ intrepid niece, Mina, and Bram Stoker’s vampire hunting little sister, Evaline. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read such a creative and promising premise for a new series.
Of course what I always tend to focus on are the heroines and I adored these two young ladies. Mina is cut from the same cloth as her uncle, Sherlock. She’s curious, logical, intelligent and methodical. Mina is also brave, willing to go where the clues lead her no matter if they lead her into danger. But don’t worry — she always has a plan. Evaline is the exact opposite – she acts before she thinks. Evaline works mainly on instinct, and uses her supernatural speed and strength (after all, she’s descended from a long line of gifted vampire hunters) to get out of problems and she usually succeeds. While both these ladies differ in approach, they resemble each other in one very important fact – both of them go against convention, both of them struggle against society’s confines of what a young woman should be and do, and both take action rather than sit around and let the world happen to them. Loved it. But this doesn’t mean they have to like each other. In fact, they can’t stand each other and this made for a fun, tense dynamic.
The overall mystery of the plot was also entertaining. Young society girls have been turning up dead and Mina and Evaline have been recruited by the mysterious Miss Irene Adler to find out who is perpetrating these crimes and stop them. The Nancy Drew, young sleuth aspect of the story was pure fun. It involved balls, secret societies, Egyptian mythology, and women’s empowerment. I think a nemesis has been created for the girls and I have a sneaking suspicion I know who it is.
There’s also a bit of a twist with one character, Dylan, that went in an unexpected direction and added a level of curiosity to the overall arc of this series that has me unable to classify this world as being a part of just one genre.
And speaking of Dylan…of course, there’s a love triangle. Two of them. One for each girl. Argh! Is it necessary? In my mind there’s only one interesting choice for each girl – Inspector Grayling for Mina and Pix for Evaline. I actually would rather Gleason had spent more time developing the relationship between Mina and Evaline than on developing these triangles. In fact, where the story lost me was on just how little these two young ladies actually worked together. With the exception of two big scenes, Mina and Evaline tended to do their own thing. The Clockwork Scarab has the potential to show two, tough young women, working together and being rather kickass…together. It kind of dropped the ball in that aspect but I have hopes that this lack of development is something that will be addressed in the series as a whole and that we will eventually see Mina and Evaline (begrudgingly) working side-by-side.
Finally, The Clockwork Scarab is set in the same world as Gleason’s much loved Gardella vampire series with Evaline being a descendant of that series’ heroine. I’ve never read those books so I don’t think you need to know them to enjoy this one.
With two fun heroines, a mystery with Egyptian mythology, and all kinds of steampunk bits and bobs…what more could you ask for? 3.5 Howls!