Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker & Holmes, book one)
By Colleen Gleason
Published 2013 by Chronicle Books

Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram) and Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock) are about to meet - and it's not under the best of circumstances. Society girls have gone missing and, unfortunately, with their pedigrees, Evaline and Mina are the best girls to put on the case. Can they uncover the secret of the mysterious scarab, their only clue?

This book was getting a hard push at ALA Annual last summer and I was disappointed that I didn't make it to the booth in time to snag a copy. I was approved for a digital copy, but it expired before I finished the book, so I had to wait for it to be available at my library before finally finishing it, early into the new year.

This book is just plain fun and it kept me entertained the entire time I was reading. As I've mentioned before, I like books that play with well-known characters, so I liked what Gleason did here, introducing young female versions of Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker (not that Stoker is a character, but I think you know what I mean). I'm also a fan of historical fiction, so this book had that going for it as well. The writing is nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done quite nicely. I really liked the characterization of the two girls, though I wasn't thrilled at their initial rivalry (why do girls always have to be in competition?!). There is still more that could be done with the characters, though I imagine that's a good thing since this is supposed to be the first book in a series. I felt them distinct enough to support the dual narration, which is also a good thing.

It's largely plot-driven, which occasionally is exactly what I crave, and I think worked well here. The mystery is involving and intriguing enough (though the random time traveler was a bit of an unexpected element) to keep me engaged the whole way through. I imagine the time traveler might be there to play a bigger role in future volumes (ha, no pun intended), but he was the major element in this book that felt out of place.

Overall, an enjoyable read, published for adults but with lots of teen appeal. I'll be back for book two.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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