After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa appear lunatic,”using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, ‘there are no coincidences.’ It will take all of Mina’s wit and Evaline’s muscle to keep London’s sinister underground at bay.
This book is the sequel to The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason, which I really enjoyed. This book still encompassed a lot of the things that I liked about the first one and furthered the girls’ romantic interests as well. One thing that I dislike a little is that the books are moving quite slowly, and I’m now guessing that this means that the author is trying to turn these into a long series. I love the fact that it’s not quite the England of our past in these books, but instead it’s more of a Steampunk version of it. This is interesting because there is a character from our present time who has somehow travelled back in time, but the history books he learned from about England taught the same version of history that we know now. So the whole series, so far, you’re trying to figure out why the London that he has travelled back to is different from the one that we know of.
I definitely think I am going to be searching out more steampunk books because I loved the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld and I love the very cool settings in this book. The drawback in this series is that the settings are most of the time not fleshed out enough. Most people don’t know what to picture in a steampunk world, and even if you read steampunk books a lot each world will be different in different series. I sometimes had to stop and take a minute to try and figure out what Gleason was describing, or had to fill in details myself, which detracted from the flow of the book. I’m also just extremely intrigued by the world itself and would have loved more vivid and detailed scene setting to dive into their lives better. I do have to say though that I think the settings in this book were more flushed out than in the first book.
I like the girls’ love interests and enjoy that it’s nicely added in but definitely doesn’t revolve around romance. The cases are most definitely the central focus, but the flirtations add a good amount of excitement to the book. Again my one complaint here is that it took me two whole books to really put together all the descriptions of the male love interests to actually be able to picture them. Maybe the vague description is a stylistic choice, letting the reader imagine most of it themselves, but I’m personally not a huge fan.
I still really enjoy the characters, and the flipping narrative between Mina and Evalines’ perspectives. I love the idea of the world they live in and I like that each book is a super fast paced read revolving around one case, like an episode of Sherlock in book format and aimed at teen girls.
I would give this book 3.5/5
P.S. I’m going to start adding in links at the bottom of my posts for where you can buy the books online that I review. I do, however, highly recommend buying books at physical bookstores as this better supports authors and publishers a lot of the time.