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Whatever Remains Must Be The Truth

The second book in Colleen Gleason’s Stoker and Holmes series involves steampunk, the occult, mysterious men—and builds on an already great series.

Whatever Remains Must Be The Truth

BOOK REPORT for The Spiritglass Charade (Stoker and Holmes #2) by Colleen Gleason

Cover Story: Look Into My Crystal Ball
BFF Charm: Heck Yes x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Victoriana
Bonus Factors: Séances, Inventive Bars
Relationship Status: The Watson to Your Holmes (and Stoker)

Danger, Will Robinson! The Spiritglass Charade is the second book in the Stoker and Holmes series. If you have not read the first book—The Clockwork Scarab—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first book, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the story.

Cover Story: Look Into My Crystal Ball

There’s something a’brewing in this pretty orb. And although the colors are lovely, that much action certainly portends unusual events.

The Deal:

It’s been about a month since Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker solved their first mystery together, and got a tantalizing taste of the detective life. Mina’s been itching to get back in the game, but Evaline’s been somewhat preoccupied with her life’s work—i.e., hunting the UnDead—even if they’ve not been seen in London in ages.

When Irene Adler brings the girls back together for a case involving a young woman, her missing brother, and séances that may or may not actually involve the paranormal, Mina and Evaline jump—well, Mina jumps; Evaline sort of saunters—at the chance to investigate.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes x 2

Although Mina can be a bit standoffish and rude at times—thanks, in part, to her impressive intelligence and observation skills—she’s still someone you want on your team, particularly if your team is investigating any sort of crime. And even if she’s not your typical girly girl, she also knows of the best shops in which to buy some awesome cognoggin (steampunk) outfits and tech.

Evaline is also someone you want on your team, but she’s the flip side of Mina’s coin. It’s her you want around when you might need to fight for your life with fists rather than words. She comes from a higher class of English society, so not only could she teach you how to break a man’s fingers when he was getting fresh, but she could teach you to be just vapid and flirtatious enough to get the information you need from a more gentlemanly gent.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

In keeping with the series—and the time period—Mina and Evaline’s relationships are both pretty chaste. I kept hoping for more, but Colleen Gleason knows how to tease a reader with possibilities. The girls might currently be satisfied with glances and an unexpected kiss or two, but there’s definitely (at least, I hope) more to come in future books.

Talky Talk: Victoriana

Characters in The Spiritglass Charade are from many walks of life. Mina and Evaline are from more middle to upper class levels of society, Dylan’s an American out of his own time, and Pix is, well, mysterious, and speaks with a thick Cockney accent. Gleason does well at combining all of these styles of speech and personality into a cohesive whole.

Additionally, the London of The Spiritglass Charade is fully steampunk—electricity is actually illegal—so many devices have hilariously long and obtuse names. But, thankfully, the steampunk language and themes aren’t used as a gimmick; it’s merely what life involves in this version of the city and the age.

Gleason also knows how to weave multiple threads of a mystery through the book so that it’s not obvious where they’ll lead, or how they’ll connect, until the very end. It’s fun to get caught up in something with so many possible outcomes, and to look back at the story you’ve read once the reveal has happened to see how Mina and Evaline figured it all out.

Bonus Factor: Séances

One of the major themes of The Spiritglass Charade is the occult, and the realism (or fraudulence) of séances. Even though I don’t quite believe in the paranormal, and I’m familiar with the many ways séances can be faked thanks to pop culture, I’d still love to attend a real one.

Bonus Factor: Inventive Bars

Gleason has a lot of fun with descriptions in the book, and the idea of The Pickled Nurse—a bar in which you get to choose the type of pickle you add to your ale (for flavor)—is wholly amusing.

I really like pickles.

Casting Call:

I cast Mina and Evaline in my review of the first book in the series, and I’ll add:

Sam Heughan as Inspector Ambrose Grayling

Samuel Robertson as Pix

Note: Googling "young Scottish actors" is a very enjoyable way to pass an evening.

Relationship Status: The Watson to Your Holmes (and Stoker)

Were I a seventeen-year-old lady living in this alternate London, Book, I’d find a way to join the team of Stoker and Holmes. Because I am not, sadly, I’ll have to console myself by reading—and enjoying—your story.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Chronicle Books. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Spiritglass Charade is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.