The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 318 pages
Genre: Steampunk, Sci-fi, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: September 1, 2012
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Lili
A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance!
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. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.
This book can only be described as insane. The characters, the mystery, the convoluted thought process…they’re all insane. But in a good way. However, since it took so long to rap my head around things and it would be hard to explain this book without giving things away or sounding insane myself, this is going to be a rather short review.
This book was initially hard to get into. The beginning was slow because it had to set up the Keep, explain Katharine’s background, and everything else. It dragged, to put it simply, but once Katharine finally got off of her high horse and agreed to spend a month analyzing the estate, the book got much better. Adjusting to the way the characters acted took a little bit of time, but I found Mr. Tully’s insanity to be endearing. As insane as he truly was, he was a genius all the same, a regular Albert Einsteen–and he is what made the book. His characterization was superb… a little old man acting like a child with toys, but his toys were steampunk inventions that would have rocked the world of technology during the time period that this book to place.
There was also a slight romance. It was barely there, but it was certainly there. It was slow-going and took a while to develop, but it was sweet. And the very end of the book gave me hope because when someone leaves, they always return. Also, the historical setting of this book will make history buff’s happy. It mentions many tensions between the French and the English, as well as many other markers of time. It made everything seem even realer and helped us to remember the turmoil that the world was experiencing at this time.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book for everyone despite how much I enjoyed it. The characters in this one are lovably but unbelievable eccentric and won’t connect with everyone. If you are the type of reader that likes unique characters that are imaginative, inventive, and incomprehensibly odd, then this is for you. If you can’t deal with oddities, slight mysteries, and childish behavior in an entertaining manner, than this is not for you. Because really, the entire book is about determining lunacy, so you’d have to be a lunatic to love it.