Book Banter: The Clockwork Scarab

scarabTitle: The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker and Holmes #1)

Author: Colleen Gleason

Genre: YA Steampunk

Length: ~340 pages (ebook)

Where Bethany’s copy came from: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Mina Holmes, the niece of the famed detective, and Evaline Stoker, the younger sister of a certain author, are called upon by Princess Alexandra to find out why the daughters of some prominent London families are dying in suspicious circumstances. Their investigation pushes them to become partners and rely on their strengths.

Banter Points: The idea of this book is great. Take two Victorian-era legends (Holmes and Stoker), give them teenage-girl family members to be the main characters and drop them in a steampunk London. Gleason gets the voice of the period down-pat and has the girls reacting correctly to finding themselves alone in hallway or such with a man (such as the enigmatic, young Inspector Grayling). Also, the plot revolves around a secret Egyptian study group which also fit the period and the craze about Egyptian artifacts at the time.

Bummer Points: While the book had a great concept, it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Most of the time it, it felt like a Sherlock pastiche…. except in the moments when it felt like a Buffy the Vampire episode…. or the moments when it felt like Quantum Leap. The world was a lot of fun, but the double first person narrators for both Mina and Evaline didn’t work — they didn’t sound different enough. Without the chapter headings telling me which girl was speaking, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart.

Mina Holmes, predictably, doubts her investigative powers. Evaline Stoker is supposed to be a vampire slayer… only she hasn’t managed to do that yet and freaks out at the sight of blood. Irene Adler makes a cameo, which isn’t nearly enough time for her.






There’s a time-traveler. AND, to make it worse, he’s clearly from our 2012-ish time frame, NOT a future steampunk infused 2012. He’s running around with an iPhone. Yes, he helps Stoker & Holmes figure out what’s going on because he has knowledge from the future, but it feels totally contrived.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Unfortunately, I have to say “skip it.” The idea doesn’t hold up to the execution.

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