The Clockwork Scarab

by Colleen Gleason
ages: 12+
First sentence: “There are a limited number of excuses for a young, intelligent woman of seventeen to be traversing the fog-shrouded streets of London at midnight.”
Review copy pilfered off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.

Years ago, I remember when Colleen Gleason came out with the Gardella vampire books. I won the first one, if I remember right, and I remember liking it quite a bit. And so, when I got wind that she was writing a YA books, starring the “niece” of Sherlock Holmes and the half-sister of Braham Stoker, I was excited. And the cover is sooo pretty. I had high hopes.

The basic story is this: There have been a series of disappearances and apparent suicides in late-19th century socialite London. Miss Holmes and Miss Stoker are invited by Miss Irene Adler (I had to remind myself who she was), to help assist in this investigation. There are suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths/disappearances of the girls, and there’s a mechanical scarab left at every scene. There are, of course, several love interests, including a Lieutenant, a mysterious gentleman who goes by the name of Pix, and (most interesting), a time traveler from the future.

That’s all the plot I got from the handful of pages I read. See, in spite of my high expectations (or perhaps because of them?), I couldn’t make it very far in this one. It just wasn’t clicking for me. Miss Holmes was interesting, but Miss Stoker was… off. And I was put off by the talk of clothes and hair, and the swooning over the boys. Much like Etiquette & Espionage, I felt like Gleason was dumbing herself down, and that wasn’t sitting right with me.

True, it has all the markings of a good YA mystery, but in the end, I bailed.

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