Format: E-Galley, 360 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you're the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak.
In this third installment of the Stoker and Holmes series, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes have reluctantly agreed to act as social chaperones and undercover bodyguards for Princess Lurelia of Betrovia, who has arrived in London to deliver a letter that details the secret location of an ancient chess queen that's been missing for centuries. But when the letter—which will heal a centuries-old rift between England and the Betrovians—is stolen out from under Evaline and Mina's watchful eyes, the two girls are forced into a high-stakes race to ensure they find the chess queen before anyone else does.
The Chess Queen Enigma is the third installment in the Stoker & Holmes series by author Colleen Gleason. The Stoker and Holmes series is set in 1889 London, and features Mina Holmes (the daughter Mycroft Holmes) and Evaline Stoker (the younger sister of Bram Stoker). What started out as a bitter rivalry between the girls, has since turned into a partnership and a friendship ever since Irene Adler brought them together in The Clockwork Scarab. Evaline's legacy is as a vampire hunter. She can trace her roots back to Victoria Gardella, an original vampire hunter. (See The Gardella Vampire Chronicles for more information.) 3 weeks ago, Evaline took her place in the history of venators by eliminating a dozen vampires. (See The Spiritglass Charade for more information.)
Mina can't help who she is. It's in her blood and she's considered to be a prodigy. She idolizes and considers her uncle Sherlock as the gold standard for what investigators should be striving for. She is often at odds with Scotland Yard, especially the brilliant Inspector Grayling who always seems to show up at the most inopportune times. She's also at odds at times with Evaline over which direction an investigation should go. Above all, Mina really believes she knows the true identity of her brilliant and conniving nemesis known as the Ankh. Sometimes I think she's wrong, but other times, I think she may be right.
And then she mouthed a word at me—an unmistakable word that told me everything I needed to know. “Checkmate.”
Mina and Evaline are working for Irene Adler at the behest of Crown Princess Alexandra. In this episode, Alix volunteers the girls to be bodyguards for Princess Lurelia of Betrovia who supposedly found a 300 year old letter written by Queen Elizabeth hinting at the location of a very valuable and rare Chess Queen Piece. The Chess Piece is said to be able to unlock a chessboard that may contain very priceless treasures and secrets that have been hidden away for centuries. This leads to all sorts of trickery, mystery, suspense, and a thousand questions that should have been answered by those who believed themselves to be bloody brilliant.
As with previous installments, Gleason's London is a place where Electricity has been outlawed by legislation and steam rules the land. Steam pays an important part in this series, especially with the steam cycle that Inspector Grayling rides around at break neck speeds. You can't really go anywhere in this series without a large amount of gadgets that have been designed and invented by some really interesting character.
What is interesting to me, is that Gleason has spun herself a really interesting web that has caught three different men that find themselves connected to Mina and Evaline. I've already mentioned Inspector Ambrose Grayling who continues to bump into Mina, and the idea of whether or not the two of them are entirely compatible. After all, how can you truly trust someone whose own family may be behind Mina's nemesis the Ankh?
The next character I need to mention is Dylan Eckhart who someone found himself traveling back in time from 2016, to 1889 and now can't get home. I've adored Dylan over the past three books. I adored his enthusiastic meetings with the Queen, and with his idols Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. His knowledge, and quick thinking have saved the lives of many who would have died otherwise. I don't know what is happening with Dylan after this book. I won't spoil it, but I did reach for a few tissues in what could have been between him and Mina.
The last character is the most difficult to put my finger on. His name is Pix, and the chemistry between him and Evaline is definitely palpable. If they aren't a couple now, they should be. I think Pix does Evaline a world of good whenever he's around. I can't see Evaline without Pix around to keep her from losing herself to what continues to happen around her.
Rumor has it that there will be two more books in this series. Brilliant! I do hope so since Mina really needs to absolve herself from all her humiliating errors in this book and get back at her nemesis. I also think that Evaline needs to stay focused. She's allowed the vampires to return to England. Something that hasn't happened in many years.
**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**