ARC Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Title: The Clockwork Scarab
Series: Stoker & Holmes #1
By: Colleen Gleason
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Steampunk, Time Travel. Egyptian Myth, Romance
Publication Date: Sept 17th 2013
Pages: 356 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
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 the first book in the Stoker & Holmes series, that will transport you to an alternate version of Victorian London, featuring such fun and exciting elements as Steampunk, Time Travel, Egyptian mythology, Holmesian mystery, and two smart and daring (kick-butt) heroines.
SETTING & SUMMARY
Mina Holmes, niece of the famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram Stoker and descendant of the renown Gardella Vampire Hunters, may both be only seventeen and wear skirts, but together they can take down the best of villains through sheer deduction and combat skills. When two young society girls disappear, one missing, one found dead, our heroines are commissioned by Irene Adler ( the Woman made famous by outwitting Sherlock Holmes) to team up and combine their “unique” sleuthing talents to solve this heinous mystery. The only clue: A mysterious Egyptian scarab left behind.
Our young heroines are joined on their riddle solving quest by accidental time-traveling tourist from the 21st century, a Scotland Yard inspector, and a notorious thief with a delightful accent. What begins as a reluctant agreement between our two heroines soon becomes a strong friendship as each learns to look past their own insecurities, and trust in each other. Together they will embark on a mystery solving adventure, involving such acts as attending high society balls, entering opium dens, drinking and arm wrestling at pubs, and descending upon London’s criminal underworld. But it is only when they attend a clandestine meeting involving a secret society based on Egyptology that our young heroines realize just how deadly the stakes have become.
Told from both Mina and Evaline’s points of view, Colleen Gleason did a great job giving each character her own unique voice, their strengths and vulnerabilities made them perfect foils for one another.
Alvermina (Mina) Holmes is both intelligent and highly observant, but comes off as snobbish as she tries to mask her social awkwardness with a aloof and reserved nature. I really liked Mina’s character, and could easily sympathize with her need to hide her social awkwardness. Her ability to piece together clues and fine details made her fascinating, and the perfect sleuth to expose mysteries.
Evaline Stocker is daring, bold, and a socialite who is not afraid to take risks. Descended from a long line of Vampire hunters, she is determined to prove her worth as a Venerator. Her super-human strength makes her perfect for taking down the bad guys. I adored Evaline’s character as she reminded me of a young Victoria from Colleen Gleason’s series, The Gardella Vampire Chronicles. She's bold and sassy, balancing a social life with her duties as a Venerator, and fighting the bad guys.
Dylan Ekhert is the accidental time travel from the future who brings with him a mystery involving The Clockwork Scarab, and who just happens to land in the middle of a crime scene. Dylan is sweet, confused, and fascinated by this alternate steam-powered London he has travel back to.
Inspector Ambrose Grayling of Scotland Yard is tall, handsome, and quick witted and quite determinedly join Mina quest to solve the scarab mystery. He is definitely not a fuddy-duddy though, as he drives a souped up Steamcyle that would be the envy of any Biker’s dreams.
Pix is a bit of a mysterious character. He seems to know how to maneuver through London's upper crust as well as it's criminal underside. He often over-uses a Cockney slang and has a wicked grin. I adored his roguish ways and suspect there is much more to his character than Colleen is letting us in on!
Irene Adler aka the Woman, who outwitted Sherlock Holmes, works for the British Museum under directions from Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales, and uses her influence to bring our young heroines together. Under Irene’s tutelage, Mina and Evaline are requested to use their “unique skills” and unassuming female gender, to go undercover and solve the mystery of The Clockwork Scarab.
There’s also a few fun and exciting Cameo appearance from Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker that added a nice authentic touch to the story.
There is definitely some swoon-worthy romance in The Clockwork Scarab, but don’t worry, Colleen Gleason makes it pretty obvious who each of our young heroines are attracted to. There’s plenty of snark, verbal banter, and overall maddening attraction between our heroines and the boys.
SWOON LEVEL: Crush
THE SWOON QUOTE: Caution! Beware of Swoony-ness, read at your own discretion.
“Was that his mouth against my hair? Just above my ear? I bit my lips as warm sizzles rushed from sensitive ear down through my body...
“Ye smell nice,” he had the effrontery to say. In my ear. While there were people in the room. “Ver’ nice, luv. Like...mmm...lemonade.
Lemonade? I heard the laughter in his voice and wished I dared to expose him right then and there to whoever was in the room. Blasted man.” (Evaline and Pix)
(Colleen Gleason, The Clockwork Scarab: A Stocker & Holmes Novel, page 130)
WHAT I LIKED: I loved the way Colleen Gleason tied in so many fun elements into this story, there was just about something for everyone. Strong, kick-butt heroines, great Steampunk setting, fascinating mystery involving time travel and Egyptian myth, plus some fun and swoon-worthy boys.
WHAT I WOULD HAVE LIKED: The time travel element and Dylan’s part in the story were nice touch, but it felt like it was lacking substance. Hopefully, his character will be expanded more in the following book. Although this does not bother me, the major riddle was not solved by the end of the story, but will continue into the next installment of Stoker & Holmes.
MY FAVORITE SCENES:
Mina Holmes take a Steamcycle (think Harley) ride with Inspector Grayling and Adeline takes on Pix in a armwrestling contest inside a London Pub.
I absolutely loved Colleen Gleason's The Gardella Vampire Chronicles and enjoy her writing style. Her heroines to me, are strong willed and passionate, and the heroes are swoon-worthy. I was so excited to start this brand new Young Adult series by Colleen, and I was totally impressed on how well all these elements came together for such a fun filled story!
MY RATING: 4 Stars. I really like it!
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Victorian Steampunk and Mystery, Egyptian Myth, Young Adult literature, and Romance.
PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Chronicle Books via Edelweiss in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Chronicle Books for the review opportunity!