Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
Hardcover, 318 pages
Expected publication: Sept 1st, 2012 by Scholastic
Source: Publisher
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.

In less than 24 hours after receiving this book in the mail I had finished it.  It was one I was so excited to read that I immediately picked it up and once I started reading I couldn’t seem to stop!   What I thought was interesting is that I didn’t know what the book was about.  I didn’t read the description or anything.  I know I knew it was historical fiction and that it had steampunk elements, but that’s it.  So much of my expectations were riding on the cover alone.  
I absolutely loved the book but I think many will go in with some expectations and will find themselves disappointed.  First of all, this is not really a steampunk story.  Yes, her uncle is a great inventor, but all this really pertains to is a workhouse full of things that we don’t really see much of and some winding of clocks.  There are no steamships or anything of that nature.  Some inventions play a bit of a stronger role, but really it did not feel steampunk.  Since I’m a big fan of historical fiction with, or without, steampunk elements, I still loved the story. 
One thing that really stood out for me was the characters.  Katharine has a very strong personality and really stands out on her own.  She’s no coward, she stands up for what she thinks and has no problems telling people.  At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this about her, but she quickly grew on me.  I loved her, but I also felt that it was a little strange that she had such a bold personality because of her past of living with an overbearing aunt.  I wouldn’t say this is really a complaint, it just struck me as a little odd.
Uncle Tully is awesome!  I don’t know how much I should say because I don’t want to give anything away.  But this brilliant inventor is most definitely different and not only because of his brilliant mind.  Additionally the other more important side characters all stood out very much.  They had strong personality’s and were quite well developed.
While I liked the romance in the book it didn’t blow me away.  It could have quite easily, but for some reason it just didn’t quite reach that point.  I felt like it was very much on the back burner until the very end and so I didn’t have enough of those ‘moments’ with them, to really get a feel for their emotions toward each other.  I knew it was there, I just wanted a bit more.
This book is definitely full of twists and turns.  You never really know what is going on that is making things so strange for Katharine.  She has crazy dreams where she even harms herself.  Things are moved around in the room.  There are strange noises.  Being as it’s an old house it’s easy to think it’s a haunting, but at the same time most everything could be explained away with other things.  To find out you’ll have to read the book.  I have to say that I found it to be very suspenseful toward the end as things finally started to come together.  
Sharon Cameron is a brilliant writer.  Her use of words have a beautiful quality to them and the second I started reading I knew that I would devour the book quickly, even if it was just for the writing.  Each scene was beautifully described without being flowery or overdone.  
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  If you’re afraid to read it because of the steampunk, please do not let that stop you!  

Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
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  1. While I wish the romance in this one was a bit stronger, I’m still really excited to read this. Good to know about the lack of steampunk elements up front, that way I won’t be surprised or disappointed when they don’t show up:) Katharine and Uncle Tully sound amazing, can’t wait to give this one a try Candace!

    • It seems like Steampunk has gotten so popular that they try to give every possible thing a steampunk spin. It’s kind of false advertising though. Hope you are able to read it soon!

  2. I was really disappointed that there wasn’t really any steampunk elements in this book; I think that detracted from my overall enjoyment although I loved the ending with the cleaning-up process.

    • It’s a pretty short read, so it wasn’t hard to read it quickly. And yes, the mysterious house was pretty cool! You really have no idea what the heck is going on with it!

  3. The cover is indeed awesome! And I’m impressed that you dived in without reading the synopsis- then again that happened to me with another book, and I was swept away. Too bad about the romance though. Still, definitely adding this book on to my list!

    Great review!

    • I probably read the synopsis MONTHS ago and that got it on my radar, but I don’t even remember. I just loved the cover! And I got an ARC without any description so I just dived in and was surprised the whole way through!

  4. While this one might not be the perfect book for me, I know Pushy would loooove this story. Shelves historical fiction, so I’m totally going to tell her she has to read it!

  5. While it’s a bit disappointing to hear that the steampunk elements aren’t as pronounced as I’d thought (it was one of the things that got be interested in this book initially), it’s still nice to hear that this was a good book on the whole, and I do like historical fiction. Thanks, Candace!

  6. I am really glad you liked this one, I planned on getting on release day. Too bad about some of the missing elements and the romance being not so hot.
    I think I will still get it and give it a try.
    Great review!

  7. I’m still a newbie when it comes to steampunk so while it’s a bit disappointing to not have much in there, I don’t think it’ll distract me that much. I kinda wished that the romance was a bit stronger, but I do really like the HF genre and I’m curious to find out the mystery aspect of the book. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention, Candice. I never heard of it before!

  8. Wonderful review, Candace! I actually haven’t heard of this one before, but I’m definitely adding it to my shelves after your positive review! I love steampunk and while it’s a little disappointing to see that the steampunk qualities aren’t as obvious and vivid, I think what really makes me want to pick this up is the fact that there are so many twists and turns! I’m finding many novels to be extremely predictable these days and I miss that jaw-dropping feeling you can get when you read a good book, so I think I can reclaim that with this story. Thank you for the incredible review and for introducing me to something new, Candace! :)

  9. I actually enjoy light steampunk better than those that have too much tech stuff. And I have no expectations because this is the first time I hear of this book. It makes me feel all, where have I been? Sounds amazing. I love it when you discover a book you just can’t put down.

  10. This book sounds so cool! I, also, absolutely love historical fiction. It sounds like it also features some fantastical elements – and if those elements aren’t quite steampunk that’s still fine with me. Great review!

  11. I got a copy of this at ALA and I’ve been wanting to find the time to read it. I haven’t really jumped into steampunk yet but I do like historical fiction so I think I will connect with that since it doesn’t have any steampunk elements to it.

    I love that Katharine sounds like such a strong character although I’m sad to hear the romance didn’t work out.

    Thanks for the awesome review!

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