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13 September 2012

Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Product Details 
I like a good mystery.  I also like Steampunk. So for the two to be combined, makes me a very happy reader!  

Here is the summary (from Amazon, as is the above image):
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.

 Poor Katharine, how could you not feel sorry for her?  First, she had to live with that Aunt, and then she had to go visit her Uncle and effectively destroy his life and the lives of all the people that depend on him.  And, to make things worse, she starts caring for them all---Davy, Uncle Tully, Lane, Mary, and even Mrs. Jeffries.  But then, she starts hearing noises, having weird dreams, and waking up in places she doesn't remember going.  Was she going as mad as the Uncle she came to inspect?  How can she trust herself? 

Ms. Cameron, in my mind, did a great job at writing the character of Uncle Tully.  I went into the book expecting a crazy person, but instead, I'm pretty sure that Uncle Tully was just autistic (in a time where nobody understood the condition).  The need for soothing colors, routines, to be wound up in blankets when he was having "a fit", not wanting to be touched and unsure of how to show affection, coupled with an extremely keen mind, to me, many symptoms are there.  She writes him with sympathy to the condition, even though its never named.  He's not crazy, he's just locked within his own mind.   

Davy, though, was my favorite character, but also the one who raised the most questions for me.  I wanted more of his backstory.  Why was he mute (or a selective mute)?  Where were his parents?  Why did his story have to end the way it did?  

I also had questions about Lane, and his storyline.  And was supremely disappointed that the book ended when it did.  I wanted more.  I need to know these things.  I kept trying to turn pages on my iPad (I was reading the e-galley form via NetGalley) to see if there was an epilogue or any indication that there would be another book so I could get more information.  But no!  

I loved how Aunt Alice finally got her comeuppance at the end.  She was a horrible woman, who treated people miserably for her own gains.  Uncle Tully, Katharine and the people of the Upper and Lower Villages deserved better than her and Fat Robert.  

I guess everyone's interpretation of steampunk is a little different.  While it had clockwork inventions that were ahead of their time, I didn't really see them as creating an "alternative history", as with many of the other steampunk novels I've read, unless there was something that I missed.  The clothing and setting also weren't alternative.  But, I guess there is a steampunk spectrum, and not everything steampunk is like Jules Verne, The Girl in the Steel Corset, or that horrible movie, Wild Wild West.

All in all, it was a great book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, I'm really happy that the Geeks Who Read Book Club chose it as their November/December selection (oh yeah, I'm ahead of the game!).  Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  

*I downloaded this for free via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*

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