Hello, everyone! I'm back and I'm here to review The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason. In this book, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker solve mysterious crimes in a Victorian Steampunk London. But enough about that, let's get onto the review!
Let me just say that I went looking for Young Adult Victorian mysteries when I finished Jackaby and didn't have the sequel to fall back on. The premise blew my socks off. The niece of Sherlock Holmes and the sister of Bram Stoker solving mysteries for the Princess of Wales? Count me in. Sign me up. I'll be waiting in line. It sounds absolutely magical. And it was magical...
For the most part.
I did have my grievances in this book. First, there is a lot of exposition in this book. There's a lot of telling and not enough showing. I would read a sentence and then go through the many different ways I could have seen the information rather than being told. Maybe it's because of the many writing workshops I've been involved in, but it definitely got on my nerve. It also made it harder for me to get into the story. When I got through half of the story, things started to pick up. That's a problem.
Another problem I had was that the book was purposefully keeping information from me that the main characters knew. Specially, I'm talking about the identity of Mina's mother. Mina clearly knows who her mother is, and she has no qualms about telling us everything else. That seems like a pretty important detail.
Along those same lines, there is one scene where a character does something completely ridiculous, with no build up, and I'm just expected to believe it. I could have gotten it in her point of view too, so the author really doesn't have an excuse to not give me a good reason. If you're going to switch back and forth between characters, at least let me follow the one that's in the midst of the action.
I do love the characters in this story. They all have their ups and downs, but that makes them human. Evaline is beautiful and charming, but abrasive and impulsive. Mina is intelligent and a bit socially awkward. She wants for love even when she doesn't think she deserves it. There's drive in the characters that compels me to keep reading.
There's also a lot of room for world building. We only get one slice of the pie with this book, and I think it's only going to get bigger. There are new fantasy elements that I didn't expect, and I think I'll be keeping up with this series.
With everything said and done, I'm going to give this novel three horseless carriages out of five and hope for future books.
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