The Dark Unwinding

The Dark Unwinding

4.4 28
by Sharon Cameron

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From the award-winning author of Rook comes a delicious and twisty tale, filled with spine-tingling intrigue, juicy romance, and dangerous family secrets. 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 geniusSee more details below


From the award-winning author of Rook comes a delicious and twisty tale, filled with spine-tingling intrigue, juicy romance, and dangerous family secrets. 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 -- a conflict made more complicated by her developing feelings 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. With twists and turns at every corner, this extraordinary adventure will captivate readers with its thrills and romance.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennifer Greene
In order to protect the family fortune, seventeen-year-old Katharine Tulman is sent to her Uncle's Victorian estate to prove that he is insane. When she arrives, she encounters a motley group, including the stern housekeeper Mrs. Jefferies, the brooding apprentice Lane, and the mute boy Davy who carries a rabbit everywhere. She discovers that her eccentric Uncle has created an entire, self-sufficient village, with 300 people rescued from the London workhouses. The estate has even fashioned its own gasworks in order to support her child-like Uncle's "playtimes," where he creates fantastic toys like a spinning dragon, lifelike recreations of people, and a fish that holds its course and depth. Katharine must decide whether to reveal her Uncle's odd behavior or save the lives of everyone in the village. Along the way, she falls in love, has fun, and may be having a change of heart, but how will she secure her own financial future? What is more, she has started having inexplicable fits, memory loss, and dangerous night-time wanderings that may just mean she is going crazy herself. Altogether, Cameron's debut novel is as well-crafted and mysterious as one of the automata toys found within its pages. The conflict becomes increasingly layered while the tension-filled pages refuse to drag. Within Cameron's expert use of language, the setting and characters truly shine. Furthermore, the mystery's clues are not too telegraphed and the book's ending ties everything together magically in gratifying and unexpected ways. Wuthering Heights meets steampunk, this story is satisfying to the last page and is sure to leave teen readers eager for a sequel. Highly recommended for both teens and adults, Cameron's book is a real treat for anyone interested in Victorian England, mysteries, romance, gothic stories, oddities, subterfuge, steampunk, or just an all around excellent read.
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Katherine Tulman, 17, faces an impossible decision when she arrives at Stranwyne Keep, in 1852. Her avaricious aunt wishes to seize the profitable estate and orders Katherine's visit so that she may declare her husband insane. Upon her arrival, however, Katherine learns that her eccentric uncle's clockwork factory employs hundreds of individuals plucked from workhouses. Doing her aunt's bidding would undoubtedly send them back into poverty. Katherine receives a warm welcome from her likely autistic uncle and a quirky village girl, Mary Brown. Her uncle's brooding assistant and his aunt treat her with greater suspicion. Katherine wonders if she, like her Uncle Tully, is losing her grip on reality as she struggles with nighttime visions. She must decide between her self-interest and her uncle's well-being even as more sinister characters begin to emerge. Cameron's debut novel reads like a steampunk fantasy. Detailed descriptions of the keep and grounds make for admirable world-building. Secret passages, canals, and Victorian furnishings drip from every page. Tully's clockwork creations seem wondrous, even eerily animated, adding to the story's chilling sense of dread. The villain's identity will be obvious to readers, and Katherine wavers overlong in her deliberations, but teens are not likely to mind as they experience Katherine's romantic and moral dilemma. Hand this to fans of Kenneth Oppel or Libba Bray, and readers who pursue history, invention, or romance. They will find Cameron's scientific fable to their taste.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Publishers Weekly
In 1852, 17-year-old orphan Katharine Tulman is faced with a monumental task: travel from London to Stranwyne Keep, her uncle's Victorian estate in the country, and commit him to an asylum. He has supposedly become "unbalanced in his mind" and is depleting Katharine's cousin's inheritance with his projects—and Katharine herself has designs on that money. Strange, haunting things begin to happen the moment haughty Katharine arrives at Stranwyne, but her attitude changes as she discovers her uncle's ingenious toy inventions, learns about his gasworks that employ and house hundreds from the workhouses, and falls for his attractive apprentice, Lane. Just as romance and fun enter Katharine's life for the first time, she begins to have inexplicable, violent episodes that put her future, the town, and England in peril. Inspired by the life of an eccentric real-life duke, Cameron's eerie and suspenseful first novel offers gripping twists, rich language, and an evocative landscape. Readers should find it easy to become fully absorbed in this gothic coming-of-age story about finding unexpected freedom. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Praise for A Spark Unseen :

"Gripping . . . [an] absorbing, intelligent adventure." -- Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Dark Unwinding :

"Utterly original, romantic, and spellbindingly imaginative." -- USA Today

"Haunting thrills unfurl. . . ." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Gripping twists, rich language, and an evocative landscape." -- Publishers Weekly

"[A] singularly polished piece." -- The Horn Book

"A strikingly original, twisty gothic tale that holds surprises around every dark corner." --Judy Blundell, author of What I Saw and How I Lied

VOYA - Amy Fiske
As an orphaned young woman in Victorian England, Katharine Tulman's living situation and means of support are precarious. She is forced to reside with her odious Aunt Alice and Alice's equally unpleasant son, who is poised to inherit the family fortune. A reclusive uncle holds the family estate and is reportedly throwing away the family money. In order to speed up the inheritance process for her son, Aunt Alice dispatches Katharine to the estate to have the uncle committed to an asylum. When Katharine arrives at Stranwyne Keep, however, nothing is as she expected. Instead of a lunatic, she finds a childlike savant presiding over a workshop of fantastical mechanical inventions, supported by a small army of workers rescued from the poor house. The workers plot, scheme, and cajole Katharine to leave Stranwyne unchanged. She faces an uncomfortable dilemma: to save Stranwyne and its people or preserve her own financial future. This is when the hallucinations and nightmares begin, causing her to question her own sanity. Cameron has produced a ripping good read with all the drama, intrigue, and romance of a Victorian pot-boiler with mystery, suspense, and hints of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Nothing is as it originally seems, as the plot twists and turns, building tension. A strong ensemble cast of characters, led by a plucky heroine, makes the reader care what happens next. Fans of historical fiction and period dramas filled with intrigue and ulterior motives will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Amy Fiske
Kirkus Reviews
"Why had life singled me out for drudgery and isolation, and to be the instrument of others' unhappiness?" Katharine, an orphan reliant entirely upon the charity of her father's sister-in-law, has been dispatched by her horrid aunt to the estate of her father's only remaining living sibling--to declare him a lunatic and thereby settle the family's fortune on her odious cousin. The pragmatic 17-year-old is astounded and appalled to find that Stranwyne is home to a gasworks, a kiln and a foundry, along with two idyllic villages populated by some 800 souls plucked from the workhouses of London to serve and support her Uncle Tully. While far from a lunatic, Katharine's uncle is nevertheless terribly vulnerable, a man today's readers will recognize as on the autistic spectrum, a wizard with numbers and gadgets but entirely helpless in society. At the behest of handsome, gray-eyed Lane, her uncle's chief caregiver, Katharine agrees to a stay of 30 days, possibly the only free days of her entire life. Cameron, through wry, observant Katharine, spins a deliciously gothic tale peopled with appealing and not-so-appealing secondary characters, punctuated by the requisite madness and shot through with intrigue. Though readers may not be surprised by Katharine's arc, there are more than enough twists and turns along the way to maintain suspense. By turns funny and poignant, this period mystery is a thoroughgoing delight. (Historical mystery. 12-16)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
890L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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