Early Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Book 1 in Stoker & Holmes
Release date: September 17, 2013
Genre: Historical, Young Adult, Steampunk
Book provided by Edelweiss and Chronicle Books
AH’s Review – 3 Skulls – B
Steampunk continues to intrigue me. I see it as kind of like a puzzle – taking everyday items and imagining how they would work if they were powered by steam. I’m so impressed by authors’ creativity and how these contraptions are incorporated into their narrative so seamlessly so that the steampunk gadgets are part of the world, not just as last minute accessories.
In The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason, the author combines an enthralling steampunk London with Egyptian mythology, a touch of time travel, and two main characters with extraordinary family pedigrees.
Evaline Stoker is Bram Stoker’s half-sister. She has inherited her family’s vampire hunting skills. As a Venator, Evaline is charged with dispatching the UnDead. Evaline has superior strength and accelerated healing capabilities. There’s also a nice tie-in to the author’s Gardella Vampire series – Evaline is the great grand-niece of Victoria Gardella. Then there’s Mina Holmes, Sherlock’s niece. Mina takes after her uncle. She has an excellent memory and amazing deductive skills.
Evaline and Mina are called to the British Museum where they are instructed by Irene Adler that they are to go on a top secret mission for Princess Alexandra. They are to find out who has been killing society’s young ladies and leaving scarabs behind.
The story is told in alternating first person points of view of Evaline and Mina. It was interesting being in their heads and seeing the world from their eyes. I did feel a preference for Evaline as Mina struck me as a little too proper and stoic. I did like the combination of these two characters as sleuths, they were kind of like a Victorian Odd Couple.
The book is set in an alternate London in the late 19th century. All electricity has been banned as dangerous, so things are powered by steam. The city is built in layers and the upper levels are usually cleaner and “safer.” Lifts provide a way for people to walk on the upper levels. Airships roam the spaces between buildings and mechanical contraptions move people and things below.
The mystery was enjoyable and I liked how the author incorporated the Egyptian god Sekhmet into the story. The story flowed well, however, there were spots where the story slowed down a little. The time travel element was a nice touch, though it was kind of left out until the end. I would have liked to have seen more of that character.
The steampunk gadgets were so cool. Inspector Grayling’s steamcycle was a cross between a hovercraft and motorcycle and super-fast. I loved Evaline’s Mechanized Mentor, a mechanized dance and fighting instructor. Mina’s Steam Stream gun was really neat as well. The author spares no details: even Mina’s ball gown was decorated with little clockwork gears.
I was a little disappointed by the ending. I was hoping that all the loose ends would be tied up, but they weren’t. Now I’ll have to wait for book 2 coming soon in 2014. Overall, The Clockwork Scarab was an entertaining read for me. I’ll have to start reading the Gardella Vampire series while I am waiting for the next book in this series.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Chronicle books for a review copy of this book.
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