The Dark Unwinding

( 26 )

Overview


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...

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Overview


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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for THE DARK UNWINDING

"Haunting thrills unfurl. . . ." --ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

"[U]tterly original, romantic, and spellbindingly imaginative." --USA TODAY

"Cameron, through wry, observant Katharine, spins a deliciously gothic tale. . . . By turns funny and poignant, this period mystery is a thoroughgoing delight." --KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Cameron's eerie and suspenseful first novel offers gripping twists, rich language, and an evocative landscape." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"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." --VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES

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.)
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.
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
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
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

  • ISBN-13: 9780545327879
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 402,511
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author


Sharon Cameron was awarded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Work for THE DARK UNWINDING, which is her debut novel. Sharon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and you can visit her online at www.sharoncameronbooks.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2013

    **5 Stars** MY OVERVIEW: Wow. I am completely blown away by thi

    **5 Stars**

    MY OVERVIEW: Wow. I am completely blown away by this book. It has gotten the very, very rare 5 star rating from me. I really enjoyed both the main story and the somewhat side story. I feel that the true main story was Katharine coming into her own, and Uncle Tully was more the side story. 

    PROS: Katharine was fantastic. You could see everything she struggled with; between her “duty” and what she truly wanted to do. Actually, all of the characters were written beautifully. Of course, Lane and Davey were my favorites. 

    CONS: I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. My one wish was that a death that happened didn’t. But I understand why it did as it is kind-of integral to the series. 

    MY FINAL THOUGHTS: A book I would highly recommend to any fan of steampunk or history right at the height of the industrial age. I cannot wait for the next book to come out. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2014

    The Dark Unwinding is a book that I find difficult to classify b

    The Dark Unwinding is a book that I find difficult to classify because of how well it blends different genres – there’s some steampunk, a bit of a historical fiction, and a healthy dose of mystery. Add just a dash of romance and you have a book that surprised me with how much I loved it (to pieces)!




    Like Katharine, I was unsure of what to expect when I began The Dark Unwinding. I hadn’t heard of it until it showed up in my mailbox, but I grew to love her uncle’s English estate and all the characters as much as she did too.




    Reasons to Read:




    1. Creepy, spine-tingling scenes from beginning to end:




    The first chapter of The Dark Unwinding was likely my favourite of the whole book. I was instantly drawn in to the story, and my interest was piqued that I couldn’t put it down after reading those first few pages. Sharon Cameron writes creepy scenes SO WELL with just enough mystery to leave both Katharine and the reader guessing along the way. But the spine-tingling factor here absolutely cannot be ignored, and I loved that it continued throughout the whole book. There were a few scenes I felt like I was physically shuddering I was so bizarrely freaked out!




    2. Katharine’s open-mind and brave heart:




    All that Katharine knows is that she needs to send her lunatic uncle off to an asylum. Her deceased father’s brother, whom she’s never met, and she assumes it should be fairly straightforward. But she’s so caught off guard and she quickly realized that her uncle isn’t crazy at all. He’s different, but she spends so much time getting to know him and eventually finds more good in him than most people will ever find in others. This is a fascinating perspective of how we perceive concepts like intelligence and the way a human mind works. It was very thoughtful, and very convincing. I really appreciated the way Sharon portrayed Katharine and her uncle in this situation.




    3. Struggling with mysteries:




    Katharine has a number of puzzles to work out, as she’s left mostly in the dark and on her own to put the pieces together and uncover the truth. There are so many levels and issues to the plot in this aspect, and it has this old-school feel of a good mystery novel too. 




    The romance here was also AMAZING. If you enjoy romantic tension as much as I do, and the build up to it – OH, THE ANTICIPATION!! – then definitely give The Dark Unwinding a chance. I couldn’t get enough of the romance because of that.




    I would have liked to have seen a bit more character development in the minor characters because that was the one area I felt was lacking. The villain felt very one-dimensional to me, and it felt like a bit of a letdown to have so much mystery build to very little. And the cast of secondary characters could have stood from a bit more time in the book to really flesh them out more than they actually were.




    Review copy received from Scholastic Canada; no other compensation was received.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    Great job

    Wonderful job sharon cameron. If you write more books i cant waot to read them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2014

    Spectacular

    This book is absoloutly wonderful

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  • Posted January 26, 2014

    Highly Recommend

    Bought this book as a BN recommendation and I was hooked! Couldn't put it down and then immediately ordered the second book upon completing it!

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  • Posted August 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Dark Unwind

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

    The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
    Book One of the The Dark Unwinding series
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Publication Date: August 27, 2012
    Rating: 4 stars
    Source: ARC sent by the author

    Official 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.


    What I Liked:

    Once upon a time, a girl won an ARC of this book from the author. She hadn't been blogging and reviewing books, so she didn't really feel the need to read the book immediately. She read bits of it, skimming the book, and the ending, and was so confused. She hated the ending so much, she waited an entire year to pick this book up again. Of course, her reason for picking it up again was because of this tour. It was an excellent excuse to FORCE herself to read it.

    Anyway. That's my sad story with this book. I am seriously KICKING myself for doing all of that - skimming, reading the end, not actually reading the entire book - because this book was AMAZING. I love historical fiction books, and this one is a really great historical fiction book. It's got a bit of steampunk in it, which I loved.

    Katharine (love how Cameron spells her name!) is charged by her aunt to go inspect the mental health and state of mind of Katharine's uncle. Uncle Tully is the heir of the family fortune, and greedy Aunt Alice wants to make sure that HER son, the next in line to receive the fortune, gets the fortune.

    When Katharine arrives, she finds a slightly crazy old man with a child-like but genius mind. Eventually she grows to really care for her uncle. She comes to realize that she cannot let Aunt Alice take Uncle Tully away from his home, from building his machines and gadgets.

    But, of course, something sinister lurks in London... or someone. Someone is poisoning Katharine, yet she doesn't know it. Time is running out to save Uncle Tully, save the estate, and save herself. Sounds exciting, yes?

    I love the cadence of this book. You know how some books jump right into the whole you-are-the-chosen-one, go-save-the-world thing? This book doesn't go there. Instead, Cameron walks us through life in the Lower and Upper Villages. She lets Katharine get close to Uncle Tully and Mary and Lane and Davy. Cameron slips in clues and hints and the occasional strange happenstance, but the majority of the book is spent getting to know the world of Uncle Tully.

    This is absolutely necessary, in order for Katharine to understand Uncle Tully, and Lane's over-protectiveness of him, and for her to understand that she cannot make Uncle Tully go to an asylum. Everything that Cameron does, or places, in this book, is perfect. Nothing is out of place in the plot.

    The character development in Katharine is huge. She goes from not sure of herself and her decisions, to running around like a crazy person, willing to do things despite the consequences. There is one decision that she might have made, that Lane would have hated... I couldn't believe that she might have done that! It was a super selfless decision, and I'm glad that she didn't have to do it.

    The historical aspect of this novel is fantastic! Cameron did an excellent job with her research. Everything, down to the par about property entailment, given names, and etiquette were perfectly constructed in this book! I love historical fiction, and one of the reasons being that authors recreate a time once present. Cameron did a fine job of this!

    Romance... there is a romance aspect in this book. It's not a large or overwhelming part of the book, which is really nice. The plot and action of the story is more important than the romance. And then, this book is set in the Victorian era (I believe it's the Victorian era), so the romance can't be overpowering. Unless we're talking adult historical romance. Different story!

    The ending of this book is very bittersweet! When I first "read" this book, that was what I hated about this book - the ending. I thought that this book was a standalone. Of course, hearing about A Spark Unseen made me change my mind! So, it's a bittersweet ending, but it's not the end... yet.


    What I Did Not Like:

    Like I said before, the ending. I don't think it was completely necessary to end this book like that. Maybe begin the next book with that departure... but whatever, because I have the second book, and I've read it, and YAY for A Spark Unseen!


    Would I Recommend It:

    DEFINITELY! Especially to all historical fiction lovers. I can see why this book got nominated for so many awards and honors... it's great! An amazing book!


    Rating:

    4 stars. Definitely one of my favorite Young Adult historical fiction novels of all time! I'm sorry I waited so long to read the entire book.

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book takes place in the age of Regency England, but the con

    This book takes place in the age of Regency England, but the connection stops there. This book is so much more than that. Katherine creates connections with her "crazy" uncle and his world. Her uncle is not crazy at all, he is somewhat mentally challenged using today's logic. This book is full of twists and turns, to the point you truly cannot expect what is going to happen. There are clues as to what happens, which at the end you have a light bulb moment, but this book is completely unpredictable. My favorite part of the novel is when Katherine builds relationships with the "servants" that live at her uncles manor, as well as her uncle, which is something that her Aunt Alice would never approve of. This book is somewhat of a steampunk novel, but it also contains a lot of darkness to it. Its one giant mystery where the more you read, the more engrossed in the novel you become.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Great read

    I lovelovelove this book and uncle tully. Brilliant guy with disorder but i want to know what happens with lane and katharine!!

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  • Posted December 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I'm not sure what called to me more, the fact that this is set

    I'm not sure what called to me more, the fact that this is set in regency England or that the book seemed to have a steampunk feel to it. Either way, I was eager to give it a shot.

    Katharine proved to me a great lead character. I think she has an hard place in life. She's at the mercy of her Aunt and believes she has no other way out but to take the abuse handed to her. When she's forced to her uncle's estate to see to his affairs, she begins to see that there are worse things than being tossed out of her aunt's house. She begins to question what's more important, her own perceived shot at happiness. Or is the happiness and well being of an entire town worth the possibility of a lifetime of just one's own suffering.

    What Katharine discovers among her uncle's estate is sometimes confusing. A house that has endless corridors and rooms, a workshop that consists of gadgets that I couldn't even being to understand mixed in with a group of people that will stop at nothing to make sure their benefactor stays right were he is. But, not everybody is manipulating Katharine in the ways that she thinks. Someone on the estate sees power among the inventions tucked away on the farm and think Katharine is the perfect tool to get what they wants.

    I really enjoyed the plot and cast of characters. There were times the story dragged a little and the details got a little fuzzy. But, the story was past paced and interesting. I wondered until the very end of Katherine would have the guts to stand up for her uncle and all that he built. I truly loved her uncle and felt that she did as well. I didn't think in the end that she could take away all the he had done.

    I was happy that the story had a generally happy ending. It didn't end exactly the way that I had hoped. It does have an open ending leaving room for a sequel. I would like to see were the character go, so I hope there is one!

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  • Posted December 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was so fortunate to win this book on goodreads. Not only has i

    I was so fortunate to win this book on goodreads. Not only has it been one of my favorite books won on this site but it has been one of the top YA books I have read in 2012. Full of fun character's that you can't help but falling in love with. Full of adventures and mysteries that at times keep you on the edge of your seat. Even at the end I was surprised at what happened to the heroine that is the main character. If you would love a thrilling history mystery with a victorian styling then this book is for you! I know I will keep this book and read it again sometime. I will also recommend it to all my fellow book buddies! Thanks again Scholastic & goodreads!

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  • Posted December 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review: "The Dark Unwinding" by Sharon Cameron was a

    Review:

    "The Dark Unwinding" by Sharon Cameron was a wonderful YA read. It was full of the 'supernatural psychology'...adding some weird evil aunts, children, a whole clockwork of magical figures and you only come out with some kind of thrilling adventure that can really be enjoyed by the teens. This novel will definitely linger with you long after the read. You will also find "The Dark Unwinding" a fun read...the characters are really off the chart 'good.' Be ready to be caught up in it all...from drama, humor, mystery, romance and a touch of darkness...that I haven't really determined if it's Gothic, or somewhat ...a Steampunk adventure. You will be left to determine that as you read this excellent novel "The Dark Unwinding."

    If you are looking for a fantastic storyline you have come to the right place...for "The Dark Unwinding" will have it all for you and YES, I would recommend this novel as a excellent read.

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    If I rated this book on the characters of Uncle Tully and Davy,

    If I rated this book on the characters of Uncle Tully and Davy, it would get five stars. However...

    First, let me say that I loved, Loved, LOVED the characters in this novel. Uncle Tully is a great
    example of the brilliance that often accompanies autism (though that condition was never mentioned
    in the book). He's quirky, lovable and achingly real. Davy won my heart quite early and never let it go.
    Children tend to do that. Though the other characters leaned toward cliché they possessed just
    enough originality to be redeemed.

    The story is lovely. Katherine is dispatched to the estate that holds her livelihood in its hands, only to
    discover wonders and kindness. Of course this makes her mission more difficult. The plot was
    predictable. From the beginning I guessed what Katherine would do. I knew who to trust and distrust.

    There were a few minor surprises and heartaches along the way. Mentioning them would spoil the
    book for those of you wanting to read it. It is a good book, and I do recommend it, however you
    shouldn't expect to be wowed.

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  • Posted November 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Dark Unwinding is a Steampunk that has everything: drama, my

    The Dark Unwinding is a Steampunk that has everything: drama, mystery, humor, and romance, with just a touch of gothic darkness, making for a fantastic storyline. Sharon Cameron’s writing is strong, clear, and awesome. Cameron has created an incredibly dark and fun steampunk world with wonderful characters. The main character Katharine is strong but tender, and Lane has a hot temper, but his temper comes from only wanting to protect the people he loves. I also love uncle Tully. He’s a Rain Man with a fun, sweet, childlike side, and Mary who is Katharine’s maid is a wonderfully hilarious character that had me laughing at her sassy self.

    Katharine never knew her father or mother; they died when she was a baby. She was raised by her aunt Alice, who is a greedy, selfish woman that lives off her brother-in-law’s (Tully) money. When Aunt Alice starts to worry about her son’s (Fat Robert) inheritance, she sends Katharine to uncle Tully's estate to have him committed to the asylum. What Katharine discovers when she gets to Stranwyne Keep is that her Uncle Tully is not a Looney Toon; he’s genius with numbers and an amazing inventor. Katharine also discovers her eccentric uncle has a heart of gold, and has saved over nine-hundred of London’s poor from the cruel workhouses.

    Lane, who uncle Tully saved from the workhouse, has been with uncle Tully ever since he was a little boy. Lane has become uncle Tully's protector, and when Katharine shows up to declare him insane, Lane is not too kind to Katharine. Katharine and Lane’s romance starts out on the rough side, with it slowly coming to swoon heaven for the both of them. But as soon as these two get closer, Katharine knows her love for Lane can't happen, not if she wants to save her own inheritance.

    The Dark Unwinding is a wonderful Steampunk with mystery, suspense, action, and a beautiful romance. Katharine’s going to have to make some hard choices for her life between love and money. I recommend The Dark Unwinding as a fantastic Steampunk adventure.

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  • Posted November 10, 2012

    When The Dark Unwinding was first introduced to me it was descr

    When The Dark Unwinding was first introduced to me it was described as having a Jane Eyre feel. This is a highly dangerous thing to say to me as Jane Eyre and I have a long-standing love affair going back at least 15 years. Bronte's novel is my hands-down favorite book of all time, the book I would pick if I could only read one for the rest of my life. The story is very special to me, so when someone tells me that a book is like Jane Eyre I am immediately cynical and sometimes snarky. Still, the plot for this new Gothic novel was similar and it sounded quite interesting so I decided to give it a go. While it, of course, could never live up to Miss Eyre's story for me, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I loved The Dark Unwinding.

    LIKES:
    Amazing characters - This story is very much driven by the characters. In fact, I don't think the book would have been anything really special without such amazing character development. Each one, including minor players, is eloquently and lovingly crafted. They each have their own voice and the reader can easily feel for each character and understand them on a personal level. This is one of those instances where I really felt a loss when the book was over because I had come to know the characters so deeply.
    Katharine is not your normal heroine - In much of YA literature our heroines are pretty predictable. They follow certain guidelines. While they may not all be the same type of heroine there are standards they must meet. Even the shy, quiet, sort of awkward girl has a certain je ne sais quois that pulls at least one special guy into her orbit. Katharine does not have this. She is strange, reserved, and altogether off-putting to the other characters for much of the first half of the book. They really have to get to know her before they trust her, or even like her a little bit. I found this to be much more realistic and thus, much more satisfying.
    Mr. Tully's "madness" - We are told at the beginning of the story that Katharine's uncle is mad. The author doesn't go into why he is mad or what this madness is. Katharine quickly realizes that Mr. Tully is very different than other men his age. He is child-like, innocent, rigid in his routine and incredibly sweet. It becomes clear very early on that Mr. Tully is more like mentally challenged than insane. This creates a huge dilemma for our main character as she gets to know and love her uncle. She realizes he needs to be taken care of but she also sees how important his home and his friends are in his life. Mr. Tully's character is an amazing tool for this story. He tugs relentlessly on your heartstrings while also providing a quirky sort of comedy. The reader doesn't laugh at Mr. Tully but with him. There is always a feeling that he knows more than anyone else and that he sometimes lets them in on the secret.
    An abundance of heart - With the mix of Mr. Tully, Katharine (an unloved orphan) and an entire town full of residents pulled from work houses, the author had a huge opportunity to craft a heartfelt story of love and overcoming obstacles. She completely capitalized on that opportunity.


    DISLIKES:
    Predictable plot points (somewhat) - Okay, I'm not sure I can really say this is a dislike because this book is supposed to be like a good, old-fashioned Gothic novel. And it is. The only problem with this is that it is rather easy to see some of the major twists coming from a mile away. So instead of being shocked, it's more of a smug "called it" feeling. Of course smugness brings it's own joys so...
    Pacing changes from chapter to chapter - Sometimes the story flies by at an alarming speed while other times it crawls. The fast-paced chapters are tons of fun, but the slower chapters make the story feel somewhat awkward. I think this is why it took me a little longer than anticipated to move through the book.
    Lane's mood swings, dear lord - Lane is, obviously, a loveable character, but his changeable moods gave me a major headache. One second he is spinning around the ballroom with Katharine or opening up to her and the next he's distrustful of her and wants nothing to do with her. Make up your mind already, sir! It's exhausting.


    In the end it was the characters that made the book. While the story was somewhat formulaic, the astounding characters brought it to life with their unique voices and captivating personalities. There is such love in this story, not just romantic love, but the love of the author for her creations. This is certainly a story that will stay with me for a long, long time and I highly recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    I loved it!

    I was intrigued by the cover, but that was only the beginning. This book hooked me from page one, and I did not want it to end. The author writes in such a way that you can easily visualize everything she describes. And believe me, the world she has created is fantastic. You know when you read a book and you wish you could jump in and be there yourself? And then you have a very eccentric cast of characters as well. I could go on and on, but trust me, you will love this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    A well-written Gothic mystery

    Steampunk novels are really hit or miss with me. Sometimes I find them too mired down in heavy detail, and then sometimes I find that the plot and character development are lost and/or totally overshadowed by the world and all the gadgets. I'm happy to say that ¿The Dark Unwinding¿ did not suffer from either of these problems, mainly because the story is very light in Steampunk elements and heavier on the Gothic mystery (which I love).

    The story revolves around young Katherine Tulman. Katherine is sent by her greedy aunt to live with her uncle and evaluate his mental state. It's made clear that Katherine is expected to deem her uncle mentally incompetent in order to secure her cousin Robert's inheritance, therefore securing Katherine's lifestyle once her aunt passes away. Katherine makes the journey to her uncle's estate expecting to meet a lunatic, but what she finds instead is a brilliant, though slightly eccentric inventor who employs hundreds of out of place workers by building his inventions. It's then that Katherine must make a tough decision -- save her uncle and the workers of Stranwyne, or commit her uncle and secure her own financial future by committing him.

    What most captivated me about this book was our lead character. I really believed in Katherine and I could feel her inner conflict. She didn't feel like a caricature, or like your typical, cookie-cutter YA heroine. She's strong and determined, yet has a good heart. I especially loved Uncle Tully. It's obvious that he is autistic, and Ms. Cameron portrays him wonderfully without turning him into a poster child. Another major plus to the novel is the world Ms. Cameron has invented and the mystery surrounding Katherine's family. I didn't expect the Gothic mystery that I found between the pages and it was a very well-written surprise.

    While I did feel the plot dragged in places, overall I really enjoyed this one. Creepy and atmospheric, ¿The Dark Unwinding¿ was a refreshing read and one I highly recommend to fans of Gothic mysteries and light Steampunk.

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  • Posted September 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Dark Unwinding by, Sharon Cameron In England 1852 women ha

    The Dark Unwinding by, Sharon Cameron

    In England 1852 women have very little control over their lives and that is especially true for Katharine Tulman. Living under the thumb of her mean spirited aunt and slow-witted cousin, Katharine’s life is one of simple survival. Katharine is basically a servant and along with keeping the financial books for the estate she also does anything else her aunt finds diasgreeable. When Aunt Alice decides that her son’s income is in danger she sends Katharine to resolve the issue. Uncle Tulman lives in and runs Stranwyne Keep (A large country estate). Wanting control of all the property’s money, Aunt Alice sends her niece to have Uncle Tulman proclaimed incompetent and sent to an asylum. Katharine agrees to the task feeling that she has no choice, but she couldn’t have anticipated the mystery and magic she would find at Stranwyne Keep.

    First I have to say that this book has such a beautiful cover. I’m sad that the copy sent to me doesn’t have the cover art but the story inside more than made up for that. “The dark unwinding” is such a beautiful story and much different than I was expecting. When I first started reading I thought it was simply going to be a steampunk story and I would have been happy with that. What I found as I continued reading was amazingly rich characters, gothic style mystery, a fascinating touch of history, and a heart warming love story that I won’t soon forget. This story is completely captivating and utterly charming! I really can’t imagine anyone reading this and not falling in love with Stranwyne Keep and its people. This story gives us glimpses of the best and worst of human behavior, but it’s the good that shines through and fills your heart with warmth. Read this book, it’s a can’t miss!!!!
    About a few characters:
    *Lane Moreau- So strong and valiant. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him and the way he cared for others.
    *Uncle Tully- He is complicated and brilliant and I, like all the other characters, wanted to protect him.
    *Davy- My heart just broke for him and all I wanted to do was take care of him and love him. His spirit was beautifully captured.
    *Katharine- Everything I love in a lead female character. She is strong, smart, compassionate, kind, courageous, and determined. She drove this story with her passion and I felt every emotion right along with her.
    *Mary and Miss Jefferies- Both women are very important to the story and I found myself smiling at their snarky attitudes.
    I loved, loved, loved this book and really hope that Sharon Cameron gives us another story in this world.

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    Posted May 21, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

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