Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 356 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Stoker and Holmes series
Source: ARC through Librarything.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through Librarything’s Early Reviewer program. This is the first book in the Stoker and Holmes series and Gleason’s debut young adult book. I had previously read Gleason’s Gardella Vampire Chronicles (an adult series) and really enjoyed it. This was a fun and light read that, while not being spectacular, was entertaining.
The book is told from two points of view. The first is that of Mina Holmes (Sherlock’s niece) and the second is from that of Evaline Stoker (Bram Stoker’s sister and a descendent of the Gardella’s). Both girls are contacted by mysterious means to look into a number of deaths of young women. The death’s are staged as suicides and all involve a clockwork scarab at the scene of the death. Added to the mix is the strange appearance of a young man who says he is from the future.
Reading this book was weird because I just read A Study in Silks in which the main heroine Evelina is also the niece of Sherlock Holmes…kind of a strange coincidence. So I couldn’t help but compare this book to that one. A Study in Silks has a much more creative and well thought out world, as well as a much more complex mystery…but it is also a very very long read. Overall I think I enjoyed A Study in Silks more.
This book is a very light steampunk read. It was fun and had a lot of interesting characters. Both of the heroines have separate love triangles of their own. Mina is drawn to the young man who says he is from the future but also has a lot of heated interactions with a certain Inspector she constantly runs into. Evaline mixes it up with a charming young thief who keeps showing up to get her out of sticky situations, yet she is also involved with a young nobleman.
The characters are fun, witty, and entertaining. Gleason does an excellent job of giving the two young women very distinct voices. However the voices are very stereotypical. Evaline is very hot-headed and wants to solve everything by attacking it physically, Mina is very logical and wants to overthink everything.
There is however pretty much no world-building here. The whole story is set in historical London. Some of the Gardella background and history comes into play but not much. The plot is predictable and a bit silly. I thought the whole time-traveling storyline was a bit awkward and contrived. Things are tied up fairly well in this book but not completely solved.
Overall a fun and light steampunk read. There are some excellent characters here and some witty conversation, however don’t expect a lot of depth. There isn’t much world-building and things are pretty predictable. I still had fun reading this book, it was a quick read that didn’t take a lot of effort and was entertaining. Recommended to steampunk fans who don’t mind their books a bit light and silly. I would actually recommend A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway as a more entertaining, serious, and creative steampunk read. I might read future books in this series, right now I am unsure.