Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Clockwork Scarab

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed By: Maggie W


I actually like this cover a lot. It's not too much detail or too busy overall. The majority of the detail seems to be on the scarab. It gives the cover a nice focal point. The font for the title is also artistic without making it almost impossible to read. 

About the Book:

This is the first book in a new series, Stoker and Holmes by Colleen Gleason. I knew just by the name of the series this book would either be really good or really terrible. For anyone not familiar with steam punk it's equal parts sci-fi/fantasy and alternate history. It's sort of the what if in the Victorian Era instead of advances in electrical technologies they made technical advances with coal, water and natural gas power instead. It's a lot of cogs, steam powered inventions, etc.  Something important to note about this book is that it has 2 lead character PoV so the chapters alternate between the 2, so it may be hard for some readers to adjust to. Luckily the author names the person who's PoV the chapter is though it the title to help keep things straight. 

Rating: 8/10

Mina Holmes is the daughter of Mycroft Holmes, and the niece of Sherlock Holmes. As smart as her father and uncle, and just as curious and observant as her uncle, she's spent most of her 17 years fending for herself and conducting experiments while her father is at work, until she receives a hand written message with no identity as to who it's from other than the writer being a woman of wealth. 

Your assistance is requested in a most pressing matter.
If you are willing to follow in the footsteps of your family, 
Please present yourself at the British Museum tonight at
midnight. Further direction will be provided at that time. 

She arrives at the museum early and meets another girl who received the same mysterious message. Evaline Stoker is the sister of writer Bram Stoker, though he hasn't written his famous novel yet, and the latest in a long line of women born to be vampire hunters.

The person who called them to the museum is Miss Irene Adler who under orders from a member of the royal family is investigating the disappearance and later murder of girls from titled families. In order to be better able to investigate and solve the murders, she decided to bring in Mina and Evaline, who will be able to blend in with the social group that the girls disappeared from.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler hear the noise of one of the museum's large doors and they go to investigate because at the late hour the museum should be empty. In one of the unused rooms they find a boy, holding a knife, kneeling next to the body of a girl.

The boy claims to be part of the janitorial staff of the museum. While examining the scene and body, Mina decides that the girl couldn't have been killed at the scene because of the lack of blood where she lay even though she has a large cut on one arm. She also seems to have what appear to be burns all over her arms and she has a faint scent of opium on her.

The athorities are called but before the can aprehend the boy a device he has starts playing loud music, providing enough of a distraction that he's able to get away.

The two police inspectors that showed up at the museum question Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler about why they were there so late at night and how they came upon the body. Mina informs Inspector Grayling that she's already started a preliminary inspection of the body and he seems reluctant to listen to her findings even after being informed of her more well known relations. Mina and Grayling go back and forth trying to outdo each other on what they can tell from the victim as far as time of death, cause, etc.

After finally being allowed to leave, Evaline watches as Mina leaves in a cab and is startled by a man hiding near the building. Somehow he seems to know that Evaline is a vampire hunter and tells her that if she's ever in trouble that she should just say that she knows Pix. Before she leaves Pix tells her about the some men he'd seen loading a very large crate into a wagon from one of the doors to the museum even though there wasn't supposed to be anyone else there.

It turns out that the dead girl from the museum was part of a secret society that had ties to an Egyptian mythology based cult. In order to keep any more bodies from turning up Mina and Evaline must some how gain access to the society in order to find out who has been killing the girls. And that starts the main plot of the book. Mina and Evaline's attempts to infiltrate the Society of Sekhmet.


I really loved that Mina and Evaline both had strengths that complimented each other while at the same time neither was presented as being weak. It was really refreshing to read a book that while both the female leads had other characters they had a mutual romantic interest in, it wasn't presented as the be all end all of the whole plot, a plot point there seems to be a shortage of lately in teen fiction.


The boy that showed up in the museum, Dylan, didn't really seem to have a point in the story. Towards the end of the story he does help out with an escape plan but other than that he seems to serve no purpose other than being there. I also wasn't really a fan of the fact that at first Mina and Evaline seemed to really dislike each other even though they'd never met before. I've had enough of the stereotype that teen girls are automatically catty to each other.

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