Monday, 12 January 2015

The Spiritglass Charade


Book Title: The Spiritglass Charade
Author: Colleen Gleason
Series: Stocker and Holmes #2
Date Started: January 11th 2015
Date Completed: January 12th 2015
Genres: Mystery, Historical, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Three stars

I enjoyed The Spiritglass Charade as a continuation of the this series, but I have to admit I did find it disappointing compared to the first book. For me, it had lost some of its fun, whimsical atmosphere that had stopped things from being too far fetched before.

After solving the mystery surrounding the Clockwork Scarabs, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have been called to assist royalty once again. But this time the idea of clairvoyants and voices from beyond the way are a step too far into the supernatural for Mina's logical mind, and Evaline has other problems to worry about as her family heritage is called into play as the UnDead start to prowl London's dark corners.

I do really like the personality of the characters put into the inner-thoughts of the narrative that really push the characters Gleason wants, though the exact style doesn't really differ per perspective. Another issue I do have with the writing is that continuity is basically thrown to the wind. You'd have Mina noticing something and thinking it's important, then never being mentioned again; Evaline solving something and then being clueless about it later. In the grand scheme of things, since this series is really about entertainment, it doesn't really matter too much, but it did stand out to me as I was reading.

I wasn't completely convinced by quality of the mystery in this book, but I was happily prepared to go along with it since the other elements tend to be entertaining enough. And while there were some nice scenes along the way, it was the lost details that really got to me this time. There were lots of things that were written like they were going to be very important at some point in the series, yet they were quickly and conveniently solved here: [slight spoilers] Evaline's sudden ability to fight vampires after her panics last time etc.
The biggest problem that arose was the difficult balance between the mystery, action, character plots and romance throughout the story. The former of these I've mentioned, but the romance, while sparse, was very cheesy and worthy of more than a few eye-rolls. Though I think these issues were present in The Clockwork Scarab, there was definitely an air of excitement that cancelled it out that just wasn't there for me this time.
Though the climax was a bit rushed for me, I did love the twist right at the end. I didn't see it coming and I'm really interested at what implications this is going to have on the characters in future adventures.

I do still have a fondness for these characters, but the smaller period of time we saw a lot of them was sad for me: we barely saw any of Grayling and literally no Bram (who are a personal favourites of mine), and I'm not sure what happened to Dylan for most of it, despite the fact he seems to need to become a main character.
But Mina and Evaline's partnership is definitely one of the best features of these books. They just have such a great dynamic when they're together, despite the fact they are far from friends and continually make each other's lives harder. The problem is Mina refuses to let anyone else have some limelight, and Evaline just doesn't seem to have a brain most of the time, but at the points where they're forced to work together it's just great. Mina is still my favourite, and Evaline does irritate me regularly, but I hope that they start to work more closely in future books because their joint scenes are the best ones.

I think this book was a bit rushed, and I can see lots of places where things could've been developed. The mystery itself wasn't as focused on working things out as the previous one was; much more moving from place to place as the story went on. But really, it was the lack of significant development in the characters and their relationships that got to me: Mina and Evaline may have become vaguely closer, but other than that I can't see any big difference from where the characters were at the end compared to the beginning of the book.

I would recommend this series as a whole for something nice and entertaining for a break between harder reads. It's really good fun, and it has some nice genres and characters that you don't see put together that much. It's not the most sophisticated book out there, but I absolutely love the era and well-known characters combined in this whimsical - if sometimes ludicrous -  universe.

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