The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Cleason
Basia rates it: 3.5/5
Connor rates it: 3.5/5
This book had so much potential. I loved the premise–it is exactly the sort of thing that speaks to my sensibilities. It sounds like it’s going to be so much fun. And it was, to be fair–Evaline and Mina are wonderful, and several other characters became favorites, but my lower-than-expected rating comes down to one thing: Dylan. At best, he’s bothersome. At worst, he’s a nuisance the likes of which you want to squash with the world’s largest flyswatter. I never felt that he was necessary or useful; his subplot is too contrived; it tries too hard to fit into a story that, quite frankly, doesn’t need him. Everything his two-dimensional self was there to do could have been handled in another, less clunky, less annoying manner. That being said, I do plan to pick up the next book. The protagonists’ budding friendship, their grudging respect for one another, is a story I’ll follow to the deepest vampire den–even if it means putting up with Dylan.
I slipped the rating down to 3.5 for the ending, which I found to be rather short and sudden, and for Dylan (who, as Basia mentioned, is both unnecessary and annoying). While I’ll definitely pick up the next one, his was one plot line too many in a convoluted tale. Still, the main narrative was fun and the characters of Mina and Evaline (and a smattering of favorites in cameo) kept matters lively enough to make this steampunk novel a witty enough matter of crime solving to keep me interested. In all honesty, I was biased towards this from the start: not only is mystery my favorite genre of choice, but I’m usually a fan of the steampunk aesthetic as well. The premise–creating a partnership between Bram Stoker’s teenage sister and the teenage niece of Sherlock Holmes–captivated me, and the development of their friendship and a slow, begrudging respect for the other’s talents kept me reading even when Dylan was at his most obnoxious.