Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Clockwork Scarab: A Stocker & Holmes novel by Colleen Gleason

Why, I ask of you young ladies, is it the female race who must sit still and take pains to be slender and pretty, all the while taking care to have nary a relevant thought in their heads? 

Why I read this book

I asked for a copy of this book with at the Early Reviewers from LybraryThing. I won the book in August 2013 but sadly I did not receive it until March of 2014. When I finally got to reading it I had almost forgotten what the premise was but I still wanted to give it a chance.

What the book is about

A steampunk novel taking place in Victorian London where Evaline Stocker (sister of Bram Stocker) and Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock Holmes) are introduced to each other in order to investigate a series of suicides that might not be so.

First impressions

While I was reading the book, I kept having the feeling that the author wanted to lure way to many publics by adding a lot to the mix: vampires, time travelling, Sherlock Holmes, steampunk...and at certain points it get tiring mostly because I didn't feel that a lot of this was adding to the story. It felt to me that the intention was to plant seeds for the series, but in my case since some of the things mentioned felt underdeveloped I do not feel like reading the next to come. Even on of the heroines in the story agreed with me:

The rest of London would never believe it of their staid, gear-ridden, mechanized world. Vampires. Demons. Supernatural instruments supposedly belonging to an Egyptian goddess…and now time travel?

Final thoughts 

While I did not love the book, I think there is something there worth reading. First of all, the characters are well written both female and male. I liked the voices that Mina and Evaline were given, although I will mention that after a while the thing Mina does, analyzing every new comer, felt overused, like we needed to be reminded about the fact that she was related to Holmes and that she wanted to be like him. But in general the 2 girls felt like very proper Victorian girls in the way they were depicted while at the same time feeling like they had substance and enough ground of their own.

Another good point for me was that, while basing herself in the real London 1889, Gleason made her additions to this new London in a way that they flowed seamlessly. I did not stop in the middle of the sentence to say: well, this makes no sense!, and this is always a good thing in my book. However I've come to accept that Steampunk is not for me...particularly when every single gadget had names like Mr Morris brighten device for a lamp (I might be exaggerating, but this was not enticing for me).

One thing I have to say though…maybe it was called liked that back in 1889…but Syrian language? Unlike Farsi (or Persian) in Iran and Turkish in Turkey there is no Syrian language…maybe it is a typo an they meant Syriac? I don’t know, but this type of things bother me.

This book felt right in the middle for me, the balance between good points and bad points was about 50%, leaning toward positive marks for a well researched base on Victorian London and a good amount of imagination from the author, since I can honestly said, background of the story felt quite different from my usual reads. Hence a 3 out of 5.

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