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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review- The Dark Unwinding

It’s been a while since I posted a book review and since I just finished a book I quite enjoyed I thought I would share it with you.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron drew me in right from the first sentence- Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum. For the rest of the book the heroine, Kathrine Tulman, narrates a delightfully intricate tale full of mystery suspense. This book had great characters, plenty of plot twists, and a Victorian mansion even Dickens would have been proud of.

But, before I go into more details, I’ll let a professional tell you about the plot:
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. ~
Inside Cover Synopsis

Kathrine is a wonderful heroine who feels natural and human. Ms. Cameron does a great job depicting her actions as realist, showing us the why behind them. Even when making a poor choice, you can’t help feeling sorry for Kathrine and understanding why she’s making the choice she is. And, she’s backed up by a great cast of supporting characters- her uncle, the sweet, simple genius; Davey, the adorable mute boy; Mrs. Jeffries, the fierce and loyal housekeeper; Ben Albright, the jovial scholar; Lane, the serious companion. Everyone has a complex nature about them, all of them have a secret or a past waiting to be discovered. And, the author does a wonderful job giving you just enough to keep you interested but not enough to truly satisfy you. Even at the end, there are still questions being asked, making room for the sequel. But, she’s nice enough not to leave any of the big questions still hanging. Thankfully.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, since it’s a mystery and I don’t want to give anything away. I will say that it kept me guessing through the whole thing, not sure about anyone or anything. It has a lot of twists and turns and just enough eeriness to make it truly great. The back of the book called it “gothic” and I’ve seen it portrayed since as a dark and creepy mystery. This made me kind of wary going into it, but in the end, it wasn’t any of those things, not in the sense one normally thinks of them. It’s a mystery, and there are parts that are kind of intense, but I wasn’t scared once. And, as for dark, it’s not dark in a creepy sort of way. Just the right amount of eeriness.

As for things people might object to, that’s the best part, there were hardly any at all! There’s no language except a few mild words that are borderline swear words (like, Mrs. Jeffries question, “Who the devil are you?”). As for romance, it’s kept at a minimum- Katherine is obviously attracted to Lane and it becomes clear that he is to her, but they never take their attraction farther than a simple kiss. It’s all pretty standard and not taken past the point of comfort for conservative readers.

The only real objection I have to this book is Lane- he’s the caretaker of Katherine’s uncle but he’s only eighteen. I felt like the position was one that would be held by someone older, because it was implied that he has held the position for several years and it’s never cleared up why exactly he was chosen for the job. So, it seemed to me like the only reason he was so young was so that Katherine could fall in love with him. However, that said, he really is a good character, and slipped into his role rather well. Just, when he was first introduced I was rather confused. But, other than that, I haven’t any real complaints.

I would highly recommend The Dark Unwinding to young adults who are looking for a book filled with both complex characters and plot. It has the lightest of steampunk feels but is also firmly rooted in the historical fiction genre. I think it could appeal to readers of both kinds. It earns a five out of five stars rating from me!

How about you? Have you heard of this book? Or, do you have any recommendations for related books?

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