Task #17: A Book a Friend Recommended to You – The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab

So many people have recommended books to me over the past couple years, many of which I have yet to read, that it was far from slim pickings. This book was a recommendation from my mother as a fun, quick, easy read. To be honest I am looking for all three at this point in the reading challenge as summer is coming up on it’s last leg and I am only a little over half way with the books I need to read for the challenge. With that being said, I have to be careful in my selections so that I continue to choose good books in which to finish the challenge. Or else my coach, aka my wife, will give me grief.

Steam punk London circa late 19th century: murder is afoot. For young Mina Holmes, niece to the famous Sherlock Holmes, an opportunity to become a member of a select group of young women dedicated to the crown is a dream come true. However, this dream is shared by young Evaline Stoker: an amateur vampire hunter and the younger sister to the (eventually) famous Bram Stoker. And she’s just as eager as Mina to prove herself in a world where women are seen as unskilled in a man’s world. Faced with the task of hunting down an elusive murder of two young women of the upper class society and the abduction of another, they learn that they must rely on each other for help if they are going to solve the case and prevent themselves from becoming the next victims.

As I contemplated what to write about this book the only word that came to mind was interesting. This isn’t bad. It’s a mixture of fantasy and steam punk with a little bit of the Sherlock Holmes flair thrown in. This last point can only be expected when the protagonist is Sherlock’s niece. Such a concoction creates a rather unique setting for the story and leads to more probable scenarios that could happen. I found the result was a feeling of mixed times: the 19th century and our modern day.

The characters were good; I wouldn’t say great, but they were good. I found that they all shared a similar underpinning, which lead me to the opinion that a lot of the characters were very much the same. This shared characteristic was based on feminism; both of the main characters were driven by the need to be recognized in a society where women were seen as inferior to men. This can be great motivator for a character to stir them into action, but it begins to lose some of its strength when it is the motivator of both the protagonists and many other female characters throughout the book. Fitting with the time period, the feminist approach was good but I felt Colleen Gleason could have added another layer to her characters.

I also think I needed a little more explanation on the setting. Many of the buildings are anchored into the sky with giant helium balloons to prevent them from falling over, and there seem to be multiple layers to the streets, shops, homes, and other buildings based on economic station. Yet by the time I got to the end of the book I still didn’t have a very good idea of how it all worked. The idea was great, but I felt the follow through was lacking.

Though I sound highly critical, I’m not. The descriptions used to describe the scenes, the deductive reasoning, and the decisions the characters made are well thought out and executed. I was annoyed with the protagonists for the first half of the book, and that’s usually a good sign when they’re teenagers. I couldn’t think of any other way they would have acted when considering their personalities and age. Anyway, I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy in the future.

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