Format: Hardcover, 282 pages
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Ever since the debacle of the Chess Queen Enigma, Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker have laid low, trying to settle back into their quiet lives as young ladies of London. But the Holmesian deductive abilities won't remain dormant for long, and when Mina receives a strange package from a winged, midnight visitor, she is catapulted into a new, dangerous adventure: the search for The Carnelian Crow.
Meanwhile, Evaline has received some very disturbing news--news that will change her life forever. Along with that unpleasant knowledge is the strange disappearance of her nemesis, the disreputable pickpocket Pix.
When it becomes clear the arch-villainess the Ankh has made her next move, it will take all of Mina's Holmesian ingenuity and Evaline's courage and determination to stop the criminal from executing her boldest and most dangerous plan yet!
The Carnelian Crow is the fourth installment in author Colleen Gleason's Stoker and Holmes series. This series features Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock Holmes, and Evalina Stoker, great-granddaughter of Victoria Gardella (who you can read about in the Gardella Vampire Hunters series). Ever since the fiasco of The Chess Queen Enigma, Mina has been itching for a fight. She has spent the past 8 weeks in limbo without having her mentor, Irene Adler, give her and her supposed partner Evalina any cases to attempt to solve for Queen and country.
If you are a regular reader of this series, you know that there was a brilliant move by Mina's adversary known as the Ankh that led to a checkmate movement that led to the current state of Mina and Evie's discontent. Mina has some idea of who her nemesis is, but it is all about putting the puzzle pieces together and trying to redeem herself against someone who is 10 paces ahead her in brilliance and machinations. To top things off, Mina gets a visit from a strange crow which leads her to investigation The Carnelian Crow. Which also leads to a curious partnership with Inspector Ambrose Grayling of Scotland Yard.
Meanwhile, Evalina has been skulking around the underground hunting for vampires who have suddenly gotten a whole lot braver in returning to London after Victoria sent them all fleeing years ago. It has also been 2 months since she has seen the rogue Pix. Pix gave her a vampire hunting crossbow the last time he saw her. On the other side of things, Evalina is thrown for a loop after her sister-in-law Florence tells her that they are broke and that she needs to find someone well off in order to marry. The choices become move to Ireland, or put Florence and Bram's future on a girls shoulders who had nothing whatsoever to do with their misfortunes.
What's curious about this story is the relationships. Mina with Inspector Grayling who gets fully involved in the story itself, and Evalina with Pix, while also being courted by a man who has more money that Bill Gates circa 1889. I have to say that I didn't miss Dylan Eckert, the time traveler from 2016, all that much. In fact, I loved the snark, and slow burn romance that develops between Mina and Grayling. Were to make my choice, it would definitely be Grayling for Mina.
As for Evie, I absolutely feel bad for her. I absolutely hate the 19th century where women were expected to give up their freedoms and get married where they have zero control over their lives, their money, or their fates. For Evie, that's a hard pill to swallow since she is a trained Venator just like Victoria was. I truly do want to see how Gleason resolves this particular issue. I truly do want to see how Gleason also resolves the issue between Mina, Evalina and the Ankh who is pure brilliance as a villain.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, of course. I am a little woozy in my actual rating because there was a bit too much turbulence in the partnership between Mina and Evalina. At times, Mina overwhelms the story by not taking Evalina seriously. I love the alternate Victorian feeling of the story with really interesting steampunk driven devices. Plus, the book ends on a punch to the throat cliffhanger ending which leads to the 5th and final installment in the series.