Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
With awesome clockwork, a multi-level steampunk London I wish I could inhabit, and two tenacious but mismatched female main characters, The Spriritglass Charade has twice its share of fun. Gawky analytical Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, and impulsive vampire-hunting Evaline Stocker, half sister to Bram, have an uneasy crime-solving partnership. It’s observation, deduction, and carefully laid plans vs. strength, speed, and plunging right on in at the hint of danger.
Irene Adler, known to Mina’s Uncle Sherlock as The Woman, brought the two together at the behest of Princess Alexandra, wife of Queen Victoria’s son Bertie. In this second adventure the young women are investigating a case that involves wily spiritual mediums, a distraught young heiress obsessed with seances, a missing younger brother, nefarious street ruffians, the possible reemergence of vampires, and of course murder. Both Mina and Evaline are eager to prove their villain capturing prowess, Mina because as a female she hasn’t been given many opportunities to employ the skills she’s honed, and Evaline because though it’s unfortunately quite difficult to find vampires these days she wants to show herself worthy of her vampire vanquishing ancestors.
Their version of Victorian era London is layered with multi-leveled walkways connected by coin-driven mechanical lifts--which keeps the poor on the dirty, darkest lower areas--and skyscrapers so tall they they’re topped with large balloons to serve as air anchors. I really want to visit the just reopened Vauxhall Gardens, where Mina and Eveline spend an evening chasing after clues. The revamped attraction is full of lovely mechanical wonders like motorized birds and butterflies that dart and flutter about, and gear-ridden fireflies that brighten the sky with colorful little lights.
Notable characters back from the first book include an over-sized Scotland Yard Detective who reluctantly trades investigative insights with Mina and then blasts around London on a gravity-defying steamcycle, an underworld far too appealing Cockney tough guy who banters and bickers with Evaline, and a cute cell phone toting young man from our own era who’s been unwittingly time-traveled back to this alternate London and is full of modern ideas that intrigue and inspire Mina.
Chapters alternate entertainingly between the contrasting voices of Mina and Evaline, and the action races along as the young women traipse through drawing rooms and lurk in back alley dives. The mystery is tied up nicely but several personal issues are left dangling and the book ends in a WOW of a revelation that ensures there will be at least one more joint Holmes-Stocker venture. Hurrah!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing. Review opinions are mine.