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I Belong

Early Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

Title: The Clockwork Scarab

Author: Colleen Gleason

Genre: YA Steampunk Mystery

SeriesStoker & Holmes (Book 1)

Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 356 Pages

ISBN-10: 1452110700 (Chronicle Books)

ISBN-13978-1452110707 (Chronicle Books)

Reviewed by: Bridget


Two young women of similar age and standing have disappeared: one found dead and the other still missing. The only clue to connect them is a small Egyptian clockwork scarab. Only Miss Stoker and Miss Holmes are well-positioned enough—similar in age and stature as they are to the victims—to investigate. An unlikely pair, the fierce Evaline Stoker and logical Mina Holmes must follow in the footsteps of their infamous families—Miss Holmes has inherited her Uncle Sherlock’s keen investigative skills, while Miss Stoker has accepted her family calling as a hunter of the undead. The partners must find a way to work together, while navigating the advances of a strange yet handsome American, a clever Scotland Yard investigator, and a cunning thief, to solve the mystery of the clockwork scarabs.

Set in steam punk London, steeped in Egyptian mythology and literary references, with a surprising time travel twist and compelling romantic triangles, Colleen Gleason has crafted a fast-paced and romantic debut young adult novel.

Quick & Dirty: This was a really fun mystery, set in London in the 1800s.  There were unique characters, an engaging plot, cute romance, and Egyptian mythology.

Opening Sentence: There are a limited number of excuses for a young, intelligent woman of seventeen to be traversing the fog-shrouded streets of London at midnight.

Excerpt: No

The Review

Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have been asked to investigate the murder of two young women, and also another missing girl.  The girls are all around the same age and a part of high society.  Their deaths were made to look like a suicide, but there are too many similarities between all the girls.  All the signs are pointing to a mysterious secret society that is captivated by Egyptian Mythology.  Someone needs to infiltrate and figure out what is going on and who would be better than the niece of the infamous Sherlock Holmes and a vampire hunter.

Mina Holmes has inherited many of her uncle’s investigative skills, but she also adds a feminine touch to her cases.  She would love to prove her usefulness to the crown and to herself.  Unfortunately, they feel that Mina also needs a partner to help solve the case and they have chosen Evaline Stoker.  Mina and Evaline couldn’t be more different and Mina’s not so sure it is a good idea to work together.  Evaline comes from a long line of vampire hunters.  She has been given super human strength, speed, and healing powers, but she cowers at the sight of blood.  She knows how to take care of herself, but she acts before she thinks, and this case will need a brilliant plan if they want to solve it and stay alive.  The more they dig into the mystery the more dangerous it gets. Alone the girls could never accomplish the daunting task, but as a team they are unstoppable.

Mina is definitely Sherlock Holmes’s niece; she has the same calculated mind and photographic memory.  She loves to learn and perform experiments of all different kinds of nature.  She is very observant and notices things about people that you would never think to look at.  When you are inside her head everything is very calculated and descriptive.  I got totally engrossed and sucked into all the things she sees and all the wonderful descriptions she gives.  But she also has her flaws; she is socially awkward and pretty insecure when it comes to the opposite sex.  She isn’t useless when it comes to a fight, but she has to rely on weapons if she wants to protect herself.   I loved her as a character.  She is fun, independent and easy to connect with.

The other member of the team is Evaline and she couldn’t be more different than Mina.  She is a rambunctious, beautiful, and confident girl.  She tends to act before she thinks, and she really doesn’t pay attention to the details.  She is inhumanly strong so she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, and rough some people up.  She is very intelligent in her own way and extremely resourceful.  She also has a big heart and really cares about others.  Socially she is highly regarded by others, but she finds balls to be boring and a waste of time.  Even though she was born to be a hunter, she actually has a big fear of blood and tends to freeze up when it is present, which in her line of work can be very dangerous.  I loved Evaline equally as much as I did Mina, while they are different in a lot of ways, together they make the perfect team.

As for the boys, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail because that would make this review way too long.  Here’s a little preview for you:  one is a notorious thief with a charming accent and wicked grin.  He has a very playful side that is totally irresistible.  The other one is tall, attractive and intimidating.  He is a member of the Scotland Yard and who doesn’t love a man in uniform.  There are other potential love interests, but these two were by far my favorite.  Both men are completely swoonworthy and wonderful in their own way.

I read a lot of books, but there are certain settings and elements that make me want to read any book that has them in it.  Well, this story hit a lot of my must-read points that made it very excited to read, and it did not disappoint.  It’s a Sherlock Holmes retelling of sorts, and who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes?  The book is set in London in the 1800s, and if you have read many of my reviews you will know that this is my favorite time setting for a book.   Then you add a hint of steampunk inventions, paranormal elements, and time travel and you pretty much hit the trifecta.  It has dreamy boys, and awesome heroines that are totally unique in their own way.   The plot is interesting and has some good twists that I wasn’t expecting.  There were times that the pacing was a little slow but for me it attributed to the story perfectly.  This was a wonderful debut novel and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of Sherlock Holmes (both the books and the movies).  Also, if you like the steampunk genre this would be a great read as well.

Notable Scene:

I drew in a deep breath, smelled the sharp iron of blood and other bodily excretions, and pushed away my uncertainties. Only minutes ago, I had pledged my loyalty and self to the Crown. The moment of truth had come sooner than we could have realized.

Who was she? How had she come here? Why would someone do this to her and how? I forced myself to observe. Coldly. Objectively.

She lay on her side, curled up, eyes open—fallen or dumped here.

Her hair still pinned in place—she hadn’t struggled.

Not enough blood on the floor—she hadn’t been killed here.

Which meant . . . I looked at the intruder, who, still under the control of Miss Stoker, had nevertheless edged closer to the sarcophagus at the side of the gallery.

No bloodstains on his odd clothing—he had not moved the body. He wasn’t the murderer.

Grateful for an excuse to edge away from the girl, I approached the young man. “Did you touch her or change her position?”

Stoker & Holmes Series:

1. The Clockwork Scarab

FTC Advisory: Chronicle Books provided me with a copy of The Clockwork Scarab. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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