The Dark Unwinding
Release Date: 09/01/12
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.
My thoughts on the book:
The Dark Unwinding is a unique steam punk mystery that will leave readers begging for more. This story has it all, , an intriguing plot, well-developed characters, complex mysteries, and romance. From the first page, I was hooked. Once you pick up The Dark Unwinding, you will not be able to put it down until you've figured out all of the mysteries of Stranwyne, the community where Katharine's uncle lives.
The plot is very different from the other steam punk novels I've read. Yes, there are clockwork inventions that are considered advanced for the time period, but these devices are simply Uncle Tully's "toys." There is no advanced form of transportation or communication. There is also no advancement in social norms. Women wear dresses and act like "ladies." Men are expected to take care of women. The class system is rigid and immovable, and if women don't marry well, then they are doomed to an unfortunate life. In a way, it was refreshing to read a book that kept the social norms of the time in tact. It was interesting to see the characters maneuver within these restrictions instead of simply ignoring them.
Speaking of characters, they are the highlight of the book, especially the supporting cast. None of these characters were flat. They each had their own unique and believable personality. Uncle Tully is my absolute favorite secondary character ever, I do believe. He is adorable and child-like. I loved him from the start. There is just this innocence about him that makes you want to protect him from the world. I felt the same way about Davy. My heart broke for him because he was mute, and I loved Bertram. Mrs. Jeffries is more complicated than I originally thought. She cares deeply and is loyal to those who she feels are worthy. Mr. Babock was a canny character whom I enjoyed getting to know. Also, Mary was very unique and endearing.
Lane is one of the best male leads I've read in a long time. He is complex, thoughtful, and protective, although he is also temperamental and harsh at times. He's never abusive, though, and he loves deeply. He also feels as if the responsibility of the entire village rests on his shoulders. His interactions with Uncle Tully and Davy really won me over... along with the fact that he's part French and fluent in the language. Hello hotness!
Katharine is a complex narrator and heroine. As intelligent as she is, she doesn't know herself very well. She comes to decisions emotionally before she ever recognizes them mentally. That was frustrating at times, but it made the story more interesting. Moreover, she was honest. I trusted her to tell me the objective truth about a situation because she operated on logic. That makes for a good, and interesting narrator. Most narrators show more biases. However, since she was unaware of how she felt about many things, perhaps she wasn't as honest as I first believed. Her words could have been tainted with an unknown, and unintentional bias. Either way, she did not have an agenda.
On that note, I should inform you that this book makes you think. I loved that! I couldn't figure out exactly what was going on at any given time (I always had at least three possible ideas in my head for the mysteries of Stranwyne), and while some characters are less trustworthy than others, some of the "bad guys" surprised me. Additionally, I was forced to constantly question the narrator, even though she meant to be honest. I really enjoyed trying to figure out her biases. And finally, the explanations and descriptions of the area and the time period are spot-on. The village itself is wonderful and whimsical. Cameron did an amazing job with the world building.
The only reason this book received an A- instead of an A+ is that the pacing was slightly off during the first 100 pages. Certain points during these pages dragged a little, which made the first third of the novel a bit slow going. However, once I got past the first hundred pages or so, I was rewarded! The last 200 pages are fast-paced, intense, and emotional. I could not put the book down!
On a random note, the ending wraps up the main problem of this novel nicely, but is a bit open-ended. I hope this means that a sequel is in the works. I would really love to read more about this world and these characters!
Overall, I'd recommend this book to almost anyone. If you're a fan of steam punk, historical fiction, or mysteries, you will adore The Dark Unwinding.
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