The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel

By Colleen Gleason

Chronicle Books

Available after September 17, 2013

The novel’s perspective flows between Miss Alvermina Holmes, niece of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Evaline Stoker, half-sister to Bram Stoker.  The two start out meeting the famed Irene Adler, the great love interest of Sherlock Holmes, at The British Museum having never met before.  The two are asked to investigate the murder of a young lady. Both are being asked to perform a great service for their country at a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote let alone be treated as if they had the capacity for higher thought processes beyond what they were going to wear to the next society event.

This novel is set in Victorian London and fits well into the steampunk realm with an alternate reality of vampires, time travel and airships.  Other ways in which this novel fits well into the steampunk realm are the uses of steam-powered gadgets, machines and other various inventions such as: a Steam-Stream gun, a steamcycle, an Ocular-Magnifyer and other such things.  This science fiction/fantasy employs steam power over electricity.

There is a bit of romance in The Clockwork Scarab with two love triangles. One of the triangles happens between Miss Alvarmina Holmes, Dylan Eckhert and Inspector Ambrose Grayling.  The other love triangle happens between Miss Evaline Stoker, a streetwise mysterious chap named Pix and Mr Richard Dancy.  Even though there is romance in this novel it is not without a fair amount of action scenes where the two female leads get to fight or outsmart people.

There are a few historical people in this book as well as famous characters from classical literature.  For example, Bram Stoker, being a famous author, plays a small role in the novel while other historical figures such as Princess Alexandra are mentioned in the novel. The famous characters from classical literature who come into play are Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler while Sherlock’s brother Mycroft is only mentioned.  Fans of Sherlock Holmes, classical literature and history will love all of the shout-outs.

One of the themes that runs strongly throughout the novel is that women can take control of their own destiny by serving their country, wearing what they want to and seeking professions.  Other undercurrent themes are bettering the society in which one lives, good versus evil and teamwork amid diversity.  These elements leave the readers wanting to know more about the two heroines.  There are unresolved issues at the end of the novel which leave the reader craving a sequel.

The author did a beautiful job of researching major Victorian elements such as their obsession with archaeology, specifically Egyptology.  Another element well researched for the novel was the world of Sherlock Holmes, a major character of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s.  Colleen Gleason writes a beautiful novel with no holes that flows from page to page and you can feel the dirt and grime of a cramped dark London as you read with a true Dickensian tradition.

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