Title: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 0545327865 (Scholastic Press)
ISBN-13: 978-0545327862 (Scholastic Press)
Reviewed by: Kayla
When a rumor that her uncle is squandering away the family fortune surfaces, Katharine Tulman is sent to his remote English Victorian estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of childlike rules, who is employing a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. Katharine is now torn between protecting her own livelihood and preserving the peculiar community she has grown to care for deeply. And things are made even more complicated by the growing feelings Katharine has for her uncle’s handsome apprentice.
As mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that it is not her uncle’s world that is at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its thrills and romance, until the stunning end.
Quick and Dirty: A girl learns that her trip to visit her uncle has more strings attached than committing him to an asylum.
Opening Sentence: Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum.
Katharine Tulman always does what her aunt orders. She’s the one who decides if Katharine gets an inheritance after all. But when she’s ordered to find evidence of her uncle’s insanity (apparently her aunt’s son’s inheritance is on the line), she discovers it’s going to be harder than just a click of a pen and a rustle of a carriage. In fact, she finds a whole town supported by the crazy Uncle Tully. And she also finds a certain apprentice that infuriates her while teaching her how to have fun at the same time. This story is pretty straight forward…until the end.
Okay for those who don’t like steampunk, THIS IS HARDLY STEAMPUNK. It’s the bare minimum when it comes to steampunk. It’s the Victorian era still, but the only machines in the whole book are the “toys” Uncle Tully creates — and those are just as amazing to them as a holographic is to us.
Deep-thought characters? Check. A very intricate and detailed plot? Check. A sweet background romance that takes time to develop? Double check. You can tell this book took a lot of time to think up and create. Although the beginning was mainly world-building and character meeting (like the first third of the book), the plot was still intriguing as a background. The romance didn’t surface until the middle of the book, but its slow-paced arc is perfect because it would’ve overshadowed the main plot line (the committing Uncle Tully to an asylum plot line). Plus I like slow romances that grow throughout the book or series. And Dark Unwinding is just the bud of the relationship between Katharine and Lane.
Oh and when you get past the world-building, the plot picks up speed and rushes off into another direction. It’s action packed from about page 200 and on, filled with nasty twists and questions left unanswered. In fact another story arc is introduced in the last couple chapters, letting it give a lead into the next book.
One thing I was expecting was something paranormal. The whole setting would be perfect and would even make sense if it was paranormal. But not a single thing was magical or mythical. So don’t let the hints of paranormal throughout the book lead you astray (it took my focus off of the main plot).
Overall this was a good book. If you don’t mind slow beginnings due to world building you should read this book.
“Tell me,” I said, raising a brow at Lane, “that is not how you and Davy ‘make your own fun.'” But the slow grin on his face told me that it was.
By fifteen minutes before teatime, the sun was lowering and we were walking the hills again, much slower this time, counting backward until we reached the house, where my uncle could forgo the ordeal of walking through the village and take the tunnel to the workshop. I had more bumps and bruises than I could count, though my uncle informed me that I had slid twenty-eight times down the hill, and tumbled over on twenty-two of them. Evidently steering a disc of polished brass while moving at high speeds down a grassy hill took skills I did not possess. I’d never had so much fun.
“Three, Uncle,” I said, swinging both Davy’s hand and his. Uncle Tully must be very tired, I thought, to allow me to hold his hand. “Should you like honey in your tea this afternoon?” My uncle chatted on about motion and wheels and something about spinning–nothing to with honey–while Lane, the nearly empty basket balanced on one shoulder, held an armful of flowers I’d picked for my room, my mud-crusted boots swinging by their strings from the same hand. I had the most curious feeling then, stronger than my little flight of fancy when we’d arrived at the hill, and the very opposite of my first day in Stranwyne. Instead of moving backward through time I felt as if I’d moved forward, and to a place that was mine, where all was as it should be. I breathed in the warm afternoon, kicked the grasses with my bare toes, and enjoyed every second of my lie.
FTC Advisory: Scholastic Press provided me with a copy of The Dark Unwinding. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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