Series: Stoker & Holmes #1
Published by Chronicle Books on August 16th, 2013
Genres: steampunk, young adult
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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.
I didn’t even know what to expect when I opened up The Clockwork Scarab. No one I knew had read it yet, so it was all up to me to be the guinea pig. Because it always seems that I am the last one to read every book, this was an unusual occurrence, but I was happy to do it. The plot of this novel is an enormous undertaking. There is a LOT going on here: a historical steampunk setting, Egyptian mythology, Sherlock Holmes’ niece and Bram Stoker’s sister, time travel, vampires, and that seems to be only the beginning. You wouldn’t think that something that ambitious would work, and yet it does. Completely.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how damn fun this book is. Alternating POVs in the voices of Miss Holmes and Miss Stoker work wonderfully. The book is fast paced, adventurous, and full of great dialogue and vivid scenes. The book features two strong heroines that are super fierce. My inner feminist was SUPER happy while reading this. And there was romance. I read some reviews that called out the book for a love triangle, and while Miss Holmes does have her choice of two men, I never felt like either relationship progressed far enough for it to be called a love triangle. Even if the publisher calls it that. Eh. Do I think the next book may see the evolvement of the romance into a full-blown love triangle? Maybe. But I never felt that the romance overpowered the story. Romance does not dominate here. And Miss Stoker’s love interest Pix? *FANS SELF* I ship it. I ship it hard, my friends. Even the Cockney accent makes me swoon. The sexual tension is thick in that one.
But perhaps my favorite part of this book is the plot itself, though the ending didn’t go the way I was hoping. I’ll get to that in a minute, but I do have to say that I have not had this much fun reading a book in a very long time. It makes me want to go look at Miss Gleason’s backlist and buy them all, because I think her sense of humor is just brilliant. The book was peppered with humor and back and forth dialogue that had me highly amused always.
Evaline and Mina are called to the British Museum of Natural History to work together on a case for the Crown. Someone is murdering girls and leaving an Egyptian scarab as a calling card. Miss Stoker is a vampire hunter that has pretty much run out of vampires to hunt. Her strength and speed are superior, and she is the brawn of the duo. But that doesn’t mean she is lacking in brains because being inside her head is a lot of fun. As for Miss Holmes, she is clearly the brains of the duo and she operates just like her uncle, which if you are familiar with Sherlock Holmes at all, I am certain you will find entertaining. Both girls have their annoying moments, but they were wonderful regardless. I found both voices different and it was clear to me who was speaking without even seeing the chapter headings that told me so.
I had very few issues with The Clockwork Scarab. I did deduct for the ending though, and the main reason for this is that the entire book felt like a whodunit to me, which I love, but the ending, with this in mind, left me unsatisfied. I can’t say much without spoiling, but let’s just say I was expecting more. Then there was a small incident towards the beginning of the book where a character withholds information just to move the plot along, and there is NOTHING that peeves me more than that. It’s lazy and infuriating. Luckily, I was able to get past it, because at that point I was already loving the characters and vivid historical London setting.
Speaking of settings, if you are a steampunk fan, I think you are going to love this one. There are a lots of fun inventions, cool fashions, and it melded well with the London setting. The author incorporates it all to make it work and the imagery is pretty much perfect. Settings are a BIG part of books for me, and this one enraptured me fully. The different levels of London, the airships, the museum, the scenes in Whitechapel…I loved it.
If this sound like something you would like, I definitely recommend you picking a copy of this up. It’s a lot of fun and well worth the time invested. It goes fast, but I tried my hardest to savor it and make it last.