Author: Sharon Cameron
Series: The Dark Unwinding # 1
Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Released: 27 August 2012
Summary: courtesy of goodreads.com When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.
Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.
As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.
My Review: I actually received this as a Christmas present, and I have to wonder: why did this book not get more love than it has? This was my first venture into Steampunk, (though I realize now, Steampunk may have been an overstatement, however, in my case I liked this “watered down steampunk”) As a matter of fact I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel! Sharon Cameron does an amazing job at setting the stage of a mysterious gothic house, a crazy uncle, and a quiet boy with a lot of secrets. Although the plot moved relatively slowly (for my taste) I enjoyed the description of the estate and how it was managed, as well as all of the descriptions of machines her Uncle Tully made. There were just enough spine tingling moments throughout the novel that I was on the edge of my seat. What starts out as a distinctly Victorian gothic novel slowly morphed into something slightly more sinister, and the hint of steampunk added well to the story line. Although I didn’t always love her Uncle’s outbursts, I felt the journey Katharine made throughout the novel, as far as her giving up her own selfish tendencies in order to take care of him, as well as the estate, was one many young adult readers (myself included) can look up to and draw inspiration from.
The thing I did not enjoy, however, was the pacing, it began slowly, which is something I don’t like personally as a reader, and built relatively slowly (as I admitted, there were spine tingling moments, though slightly inconsistent and the overall mystery was attention grabbing) then it suddenly became a whirlwind, with a cliff hanger to lead into a follow-up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with cliffhangers, as a matter of fact there are a few books were the cliffhanger gives me an adrenaline rush akin to driving really fast or, I imagine, hanging off a cliff (hence the excellent title of “cliffhanger”) which I LOVE. What I do not like, however, is when a book builds slowly for roughly 85% and then suddenly it’s a cliffhanger ending leaving you with more questions than answers. Basically you go throughout the entire game thinking you’re playing bridge when, in fact, you’ve been playing blackjack. (I know it would be impossible to screw those to up, but go with me). I’ve got all my ducks in a row, it’s pretty slow going, then I realize, I’ve got a LOT of money on the table, and one hand to win it all back. The clock is ticking, what happened to the slow build up to the inevitable ending? It got lost in the cards. Though, I will admit, Cameron does a beautiful job and getting the reader there. It's incredible in a way, because you get so lost in the world she's created you don't realize you're nearing the last page until you're there and suddenly everything is bursting at the seams.
I plan on reading A Spark Unseen, I’ve got it pre-ordered, because I loved the characters in The Dark Unwinding, and I want to see France through Cameron’s eyes (because I’ll tell you what, England was just lovely). Also I love her choice in character names. It’s weird I’ve gotten so attached, but I find Lane, Katharine and Tully to be positively lovely names, which is superficial, but hey, I never said I wasn’t.