March 14, 2018

Half a Series: Stoker and Holmes

I started this post as a "Series Spotlight" way back in September and still have yet to get my hands on books 3 and 4! Time for these reviews to be done languishing in the "Draft" pile and move on with life!

p.s. It's a good thing I reviewed them right after I read them, because I would have no clue where to begin if I had waited until now!

The Clockwork Scarab, by Colleen Gleason

4 stars: A diverting and delightful way to spend a few hours.

Alvermina Holmes--just Mina, thank you--(Sherlock's niece) and Evaline Stoker (yep, vampire huntress) would never have become partners in any endeavor, if Irene Adler hadn't stepped in. They both are invited to join Ms. Adler as secret investigators for the Princess. Specifically, looking into the mysterious deaths and disappearances of certain high society young girls. So far there have been 3: a disappearance, an apparent suicide, and now a murder.

Each girl has her own strengths and weaknesses to bring to the table. Mina is the brains and the planner, taking after Uncle Sherlock's deductive reasoning and power of observation, while Evaline has inherited incredible strength and speed, and happens to be popular amongst the Ton as well. It will take more than a shared assignment for them to get along, but in order to survive, they're going to have to figure out how to do it.

* * * * *
There was a lot going on in this book that made it enjoyable. The steampunk London setting was well done. It wasn't gone into in depth, but details here and there kept popping up: the clockwork scarabs themselves; the skyways and multiple levels of walkways for streets; various gadgets and weapons; even a term or two, "cognoggin," for example. It was just enough to put you there without slowing down the rest of the story. This was not a story about the setting, after all, but a murder mystery.

The personality clashes between Miss Holmes and Miss Stoker kept it lively. The mystery itself never quite got resolved, as the murderer got away without being positively identified. I have my suspicions as to who it was, but I suppose I'll have to wait to see if I'm correct. There were several shadowy figures with undisclosed pasts and motivations that it could have been. A handful of fight scenes, plus a little bit of romantic interests on the side. All together it added up to a satisfying read.

A recipe for success!

Content: A little blood in the fight scenes, a handful of cuss words. I would say 16 and up.


The Spiritglass Charade (Stoker and Holmes #2), by Colleen Gleason

3 stars: Our dynamic duo take on spiritualists and the UnDead.

Once again Miss Holmes and Miss Stoker, detective and vampire slayer, are back to solve a new round of problems. Willa Ashton is a girl about the same age as our heroines, who's little brother Robby has gone missing, (presumed dead), and she has become heavily involved with spiritualists in an attempt to contact her dead mother and find out where he is. However, it seems as though someone is trying to push Willa over the brink into insanity. The question is: why? Money, probably, but there could be other motives as well.

Another troubling development: rumors have it that there are UnDead roaming London. Vampires, to be precise. Miss Stoker will finally get a chance to prove herself as a venator (vampire slayer). That is, if she can ever find one of the blasted things.

* * * * *
Much like the first book, this one does an excellent job of setting up steampunk London as the backdrop to an engaging mystery story. The two girls continue to get on each other's nerves, but seem to be slowly warming to each other's strengths as well. A handful of the main supporting characters were still quite mysterious, but I've got a few theories as to what they were about.

My lower rating on this one is simply because I don't enjoy vampire stories very much. This one was okay--not super bloody or sensual or creepy--but still; I didn't like it as much as the first. I did smile, though, at a jab toward the Twilight series. One of the characters is named Dylan, and he is a misplaced time traveler from our time. At one point he makes a snide remark about vampires glittering in the sun. Ha!

Content: Some kissing, vampire slaying, a bit of blood. Also, talk of séances and communicating with the dead, but it was actually fairly entertaining, as Miss Holmes was there figuring out how they had been faked. Appropriate for teens and up.


* * * * *
I have been on the waiting list for #3 for months, and our library doesn't even own #4 yet. So no guarantees when reviews for #'s 3 and 4 will be coming along. Don't hold your breath, is all I'm saying.

On a different note, these books sort of made me want to invest in a steampunk Halloween costume (it was before Halloween when I read them, if you may recall.) The clothes sounded so awesome! Maybe that is something I could start putting together now. White ruffled blouse or fancy dress, gears, corset as outerwear, boots and goggles...hmm...this could be a lot of fun!


  1. A steampunk mystery - sounds like fun! I'll have to look for these at our library. Thanks for the review!

  2. You're welcome! I hope you like them. If you read the 3rd and 4th, don't tell me how they end! :)