Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab

Colleen Gleason
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Chronicle Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-1452110707

Evaline Stoker, sister to Bram Stoker, and Mina Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’ niece, are nothing alike. Nothing, and yet they are both summoned to the British Museum to attend a meeting with someone. In the letters the young women receive the writer suggests that they should come if they are “willing to follow in the footsteps of your family.” Both girls have been working hard, in Mina’s case to become a detective, and in Evaline’s case, to be a successful vampire hunter, so they are both interested to meet the person who sent the letters.

   It turns out that the writer is none other than Irene Adler, the one woman who managed to get the better, and earn the respect, of Sherlock Holmes. Irene is working for the Princess of Wales and she wants the girls to “place your lives and honor at the feet of your country.” Some person or organization is responsible for the death of one society girl, and the disappearance of another. The mother of the missing girl is a good friend of the Princess of Wales, hence the reason for the princess’s request that Irene find out who is responsible for these crimes.

   The girls, who do not get along very well, find out that the two society girls have one thing in common. Both of them had small Egyptian scarabs in their possession. There is a cartouche written on the scarabs, which is how the girls and Irene find out that whoever is responsible for the death of the one girl and the disappearance of the other is somehow connected to Sekhmet, an Egyptian goddess.

   The deeper they dig for information, the more bizarre the situation becomes. Soon after the Mina and Evaline agree to take on the job, the body of yet another society girl is found in the museum. A strange young man is found standing next to the body, and later Mina discovers that this young man, Dylan, is from America and he is also from the future. Somehow a statue of Sekhmet transported him to Mina and Evaline’s London. He found the body of the dead girl in the museum but had nothing to do with her demise. He also found a scarab on the dead girl’s person. Now no less than three girls are somehow connected to the Sekhmet scarabs, and two of them are dead.

   Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Mina and Evaline use an invitation belonging to one of the dead girls so that they can get into the King and Queen of the Roses Ball at the home of Lord and Lady Cosgrove-Pitt. The dead girl’s invitation has a small picture of a scarab on it and it provides them with the means to infiltrate a secret meeting of the Society of Sekhmet. Mina and Evaline learn that a person called the Ankh means to help the girls who are members of the society to “gain control of your lives in a manner such that women have never done.” This sounds a little like suffragette talk, but Mina and Evaline soon realize that the Ankh is after much more than women’s suffrage and they better stop him or her before more young women vanish or die.

   Readers who have an interest in steampunk worlds, bizarre adventures, and mysteries are going to greatly enjoy this title. With touches of humor, romance, and with interesting conundrums that are not easy to work out, the author keeps her readers guessing from the first page to the last. The story is told from the points of view of both Mina and Evaline, which makes it particularly interesting.