Saturday, August 25, 2012

ARC Review: The Dark Unwinding

Title:  The Dark Unwinding
Author:  Sharon Cameron
Pages:  318
Genre:  YA Steampunk Mystery
Publisher:  Scholastic
Obtained:  Publisher at TLA
Summary:  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.

The Dish:  Katharine Tulman has a hard task set for her by her miserly Aunt Alice who is only concerned for the financial well-being of her young son, Robert.  She must go to visit her Uncle Tulman's estate and decide whether or not he is of a sound mind all because he has been using the family's finances in "frivolous ventures."  Now, given Katharine's own financial situation rests on being able to maintain the bookkeeping of her aunt so she won't be tossed out onto the street, her frame of mind when she first arrives at Stranwyne Estate is understandable.  While she first believes she must save herself, after meeting her uncle and the people who are part of his "ventures," Katharine comes to a crossroads where she must decide whether her own fate is worth that of hundreds.

When I first received The Dark Unwinding, I was very curious about Katharine and particularly what her uncle could be doing that would force her aunt to question his state of mind.  It was a little difficult getting to know Katharine simply because she was in this constant state of "me, myself, and I."  However, learning more about her past and family, I could see why she was rather self-focused.  It was fascinating to watch her expand her focus as she ventured around her uncle's estate, meeting more of the people behind the so-called "frivolous ventures."

I enjoyed seeing Katharine's relationship develop between the people on the estate, especially with Lane Moreau, her uncle's apprentice.  Since readers are hearing the story from Katharine's point of view, it was a bit difficult to understand Lane's feelings regarding our heroine, but I think more of his emotion shone through the pages despite her ignorance.  It was surprising to see how quickly the relationship between Katharine and her Uncle Tulman developed, but readers will see why once they hear more about the "guardian" outside Katharine's room.

The story overall was very enjoyable and Cameron did create a mystery that was, at first, confusing to where even I was questioning Katharine's state of mind after she came to Stranwyne.  As the pieces to the puzzle began to fall into place through the developing story, it was a matter of narrowing down the list of suspects.  During Katharine's earlier "episodes" it felt as though the story was... stilted as if it were an entirely separate piece that didn't quite fit with the rest of the story.  However, in hindsight, this was probably to help set the stage for the mystery.  I think readers who enjoy steampunk young adult literature and a good mystery will favor reading The Dark Unwinding.


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