Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: The Dark Unwinding - Sharon Cameron

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Series: Dark Unwinding #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, steampunk
Published on August 27, 2012
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 318
Read From: 10.22.12 - 10.24.12
Final Rating: 5/5 strawberries

When a rumor that her uncle is squandering away the family fortune surfaces, Katharine Tulman 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 childlike rules, who is employing a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. 

Katharine becomes torn between protecting her own livelihood and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And things are made even more complicated by the developing feelings Katharine has for her uncle's handsome apprentice. 
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.


Cover Blurb: Love it. You can’t see Katharine’s face - I’m okay with side profiles - so it works. I love the gears and the title’s font and the background; love it all. It definitely caught my interest when I first saw it.

What I Liked: This is one of those stories where it takes a little bit of time for the characters to grow on you. I loved the book doubly for that, because while I started out not especially attached to any of them, by the end of the book, I loved them. Katharine is a good, strong protagonist, and I didn’t particularly like her at first because she came across as kind of pushy, and she was so willing to obey her Aunt Alice about Stranwyne. And while Katharine was kind of in a hard place - disobeying her Aunt would see her thrown on the streets, - part of me was like, “But that’s a selfish reason to put your uncle in an asylum and ruin everyone’s livelihood on Stranwyne!” But as the story progressed, and when Katharine is finally forced to make a decision, I understood her pain and I loved her strong will and devotion. I went through the same process with Lane. I understood why he didn’t like Katharine at first - she was there to throw Uncle Tully in an asylum, - but his moodiness just drove me up a wall. After a while, though, I came to know him right along with Katharine, and he became yet another strong, honorable, and kind character. Uncle Tully was an immediate hit with me. I don’t normally like characters who aren’t entirely right in the head, because they’re just kind of there, and don’t usually add much to the plot. I couldn’t help but like Uncle Tully, though, with all of his eccentricities and brilliant mind and his kindness to Katharine. Mary Brown was also an immediate hit - the chatterbox village girl who speaks her mind, - as was Davy, the quiet, gentle boy who sees and notices everything. I also loved that I became attached to Ben Aldridge, and then later in the story began to distrust him; it shows depth in the character’s personality.

What I Disliked: Nothing.

Believability: Katharine’s attitude was very much in keeping with the era. She’s not afraid to do what needs to be done, but she’s always very much aware of social protocol, and it’s with some effort that she pushes past it when the need arises. The story’s twist was also very believable, and that’s all I can say about it without giving something away.

Writing Style: It’s good. The dialogue is in keeping with the era, and I loved the story’s tone: bleak, isolated, foreboding. Every single character in this story has a lot of depth and personality, even the ones who appear only for a very short time, and even more importantly - everyone behaves the way they do for a reason. But where the Author really succeeded was the mystery itself. She reveals clues at a really good pace, all the while keeping the Reader guessing about everything. It almost drove me up a wall, trying to figure out what was going on, but I was also tickled pink that I had finally found a mystery that wasn’t unbelievably easy to solve. Halfway through the book, the villain becomes rather apparent, but what exactly the person is up to isn’t, so you keep reading. I could feel the Author smiling knowingly at me through the pages, like she was saying, "I know you have no idea how this is going to work out, but trust me - you'll love it!"

Content: None.

Conclusion: Very satisfying. The Author explains everything in a way that left me feeling pleased, and also congratulating the Author on a clever solution. There’s going to be a sequel, which I hope will be every bit as good. I’m so glad that this book turned out to be as good as it was. When I first picked it up, I wasn’t expecting anything terribly grand. An entertaining enough mystery, but one that would be pretty easy to solve. Sharon Cameron surprised me, and I really, really look forward to seeing what she writes next. This is an Author to keep your eye on.

Recommended Audience: Historical fiction fans, mystery fans, girl-read (though some guys might enjoy it), any age.

Others in This Series:
1)The Dark Unwinding
2)A Spark Unseen

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