Review No.147 – The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab – Colleen Gleason

Chronicle Books, 2013

In the city of London, in the year 1889, the most strenuous activity deemed appropriate for a young lady’s mind is capturing the attention of a respectable suitor, but when girls start turning up dead a pair of secret investigators are recruited from the great dynasties of the day. Mina Holmes, still struggling with her own mother’s disappearance, is determined to prove herself the equal of her famous uncle. Evaline Stoker, last of a long line of vampire slayers, has never had the chance to fully exercise her abilities. Seizing an opportunity to apply their unconventional skills, they join forces to find a killer, following a trail that will lead them from the darkest corners of London to the most glittering circles of high society.

That sounded like a wonderful premise, which is part of why I was so terribly disappointed with this book. The writing is repetitive, scattered with jarringly modern and American turns of phrase, the plot is incoherent and barely any part of it is satisfactorily resolved. Even for the first book in a projected series (the sequel is slated for release in October of this year) there are an extraordinary number of loose ends. The protagonists’ abilities are thoroughly overstated, badly demonstrated and repeatedly undermined by secondary characters who keep up or outpace them easily, despite the girls being supposedly uniquely gifted. I truly wish I had something more positive to say.

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