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Review of The Spiritglass Charade

gleason_spiritglass charadeThe Spiritglass Charade [Stoker & Holmes]
by Colleen Gleason
Middle School, High School    Chronicle    356 pp.
10/14    978-1-4521-1071-4    $17.99    g

In the second Stoker & Holmes mystery (The Clockwork Scarab, rev. 9/13), the royal family enlists the teenage protagonists to investigate whether a young lady, Willa Ashton — who believes she can communicate with her dead mother — has gone mad, or if someone is trying to drive her there. Mina Holmes (daughter of Mycroft, niece of Sherlock, and just as brilliant and insufferable as either) attempts to first debunk Willa’s psychic medium…then solve the woman’s murder. Novice vampire hunter Evaline Stoker (Bram’s kid sister), less of a supernatural skeptic than Mina, receives her own message at a séance, then gets to cut her teeth, as it were, when the UnDead make an unexpected reappearance in London. Just as in the previous book, there’s lots of fun to be had from this odd-couple investigative team’s snarky banter, the well-imagined setting’s steampunk details, and Gleason’s flashes of satiric humor (there’s a seedy bar called the Pickled Nurse). There’s also romantic angst and confusion: analytical Mina is vexed by her feelings for two potential beaux (Scotland Yard’s surly but dashing Inspector Grayling and Dylan-from-the-future), and Evaline is titillated and confounded by shady-character Pix (what are his motives with respect to those vampires?). Revelations about their mentor Miss Adler’s past, along with the book’s final-sentence big reveal, suggest that the game remains afoot.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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