Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (DNF)


Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

I had heard a few good reviews of this novel, saying it was really innovative and fun, with strong female leads, so I bought it. Well, at least it was cheap.

I couldn’t finish this, which is such a pity. I was totally willing to suspend my disbelief that the sister of Bram Stoker (author of Dracula) and the daughter of Mycroft Holmes (who is obviously purely fictional) could possibly team up in a steampunk London. It isn’t even explained (up to the 50% mark, where I stopped) how this team could even exist. It bugged me, especially when the time traveller, Dylan, appeared and also seemed to register that Holmes is fictional…

It felt like there were too many aspects being thrown in… so far:
-murder mystery
-Sherlock/Mycroft Holmes + Bram Stoker relatives+ Irene Adler
-vampire hunting
-time travel
-love triangle
-Egyptian mythology

You’d think with all that going on, there would be something interesting to keep me going… I can’t find it. I was totally bored with this, which is a shame. I’m normally willing to finish books that I don’t really enjoy, just to see what happens at the end, particularly if they’re on the mysterious side like this is, but I just don’t care enough to bother. I feel a bit bad about it… It had a lot of potential to be really interesting and different, but it’s fallen completely flat.

There’s so much wrong with the setting as well… I’m not a steampunk reader at all, so maybe it’s part of that, but there’s absolutely no way a woman of society could go wandering the streets of London (especially Whitechapel!) alone at night. Yeah, right. 

Other terminology really didn’t fit the time period or setting, like telling Dylan to “wash up a bit”… To me, she’s asking him to wash the bloody dishes, not wash himself. Oh, and the amount of words that would never have been uttered by women of Mina and Eveline’s class, like “bloody” and “blooming”- not much of a curse today, but in the 19th Century they were.
Don’t call an hourglass an “old fashioned timekeeper”. It’s a freaking hourglass, tell it like it is. You tell me that sand goes through it, so voila, hourglass. 

“I would walk across a bed of nails for him”… ah, you lie on the bed of nails, you walk across hot coals. Sorry girl, that got a huge eye roll from me. But then again, both of these examples stem from a case of insta-love, so perhaps it’s all she can manage.


This also featured the most protracted arm wrestle ever. I suppose it was something to do with sexual tension but by halfway I didn’t care anymore.

There were several pages used to describe a dress, to the point that I couldn’t picture it anymore, but could picture the dress described in a couple of sentences. There’s a point where you can overdo it, and this description went there… and I usually really like descriptive texts!

The utter bitchiness of Eveline Stoker. She was really, really getting on my nerves, particularly by repeatedly calling Mina a “brain-beak”. I assume the beak part is in reference to her nose, which is described as long and sharp. It’s not her fault she’s cleverer than you and has a big nose! Yes, Mina was on the bossy side, but I honestly didn’t think she was as bad as Eveline made out. Every chapter of Eveline made me groan, as I knew that I was in for a ton of snide thoughts towards Mina. So much for strong, relatable and badass female characters. I like mine without a side of bitchiness.

The book constantly refers to Sherlock Holmes, dismissing Mycroft as a bad man who spends all his time in the club. For me, the point is that Mycroft would never have reproduced, so Mina’s mere existence is astounding, plus Mycroft was far more than that. It definitely makes me think that the author chose these protagonists to grab both of the flavours of the month- vampires and Sherlock Holmes, to get greater interest in the book. They honestly didn’t need to be who they were at all… they could have been an analytical girl and a girl of action, without the background, and done the same thing.

So… uh. Nah, I didn’t like it. It had promise and it could have been really good, but it didn’t feel right to me at all. It’s such a pity, but life is too short to continue dragging myself through this book.



One thought on “Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (DNF)

  1. Pingback: 2014 End of Year Book Survey! | bookarahma

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