The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

8:00 AM

Title: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: September 1, 2012 (hardcover)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 336
Source: Copy provided by publisher

Overall: 4 Stars

A thrilling tale of 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 remote English 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 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 has grown to care for—a conflict made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a mysterious 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 they know it. With twists and turns and breathtaking romance at every corner, this thrilling adventure will captivate readers. 

My Thoughts: 
Katherine Tulman is sent to her Uncle Tully's remote estate on her aunt's behalf in order to protect her cousin's inheritance when rumours swirl that it's being dwindled away. When she arrives, she learns her uncle is helping to support the livelihoods of almost a thousand people who've come from the poor workhouses in London. Understandably, the villagers are wary of Katherine's presence among them.

Tully is a brilliant, eccentric inventor of complex automatons. He's a very peculiar man with a childish perspective of the world, and Katherine fears the worst would happen to him if he were committed to an asylum. Tully isn't fond of strangers, but he immediately allows Katherine to explore his workshop and help with small tasks, a feat which surprises everyone on the estate. He has placed his faith and trust in Katherine in such a short time, and it makes her feel guilty at the thought of playing a role in having him taken away from everything he loves.

I sympathized with Katherine right away; as a woman living in the Victorian period, her future is limited in so many ways. She's completely dependent on her aunt's patronage, but a part of herself has always longed for freedom. Away from her aunt's stifling, domineering control, Katherine feels more comfortable in her new surroundings than she would have ever expected. She knows she's going to have to face her Aunt Alice again eventually, but she would do anything to prolong the moment. However, there are sinister plans in motion on the estate, and Katherine finds herself questioning her very sanity the longer she remains...

The dark, creepy, and isolated Gothic setting is perfectly described in The Dark Unwinding! It leaves you completely paranoid that someone is playing tricks on Katherine's mind to scare her away. I may have identified the villain before the moment of revelation came long, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book any less. Sharon Cameron's The Dark Unwinding is an intriguing historical fiction novel with steampunk elements! I also really liked the combination of mystery with a dash of romance too.

Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for providing this review copy!

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  1. Ooooh, I love a creepily Gothic setting! Do you think this one would be good for someone trying to ease into steampunk? I haven't read much in the genre yet and I think some of them can be pretty overwhelming with the focus on the sci-fi/technology elements. But I get the sense this one is quite balanced?

    1. Yes, I think The Dark Unwinding would be a good introduction to the steampunk world! I would rather describe the book as being a historical fiction one, but the automatons in this one are a more basic level of the inventions you might find in a truly steampunk book. And the Gothic setting really does create a shadowed atmosphere over the estate. :)

  2. I love books with Gothic settings! I find them so easy to get lost it. I'm glad to hear this is a good read. I've had it sitting on my shelf for awhile and I really should get to it.