The Dark Unwinding (The Dark Unwinding #1) by Sharon Cameron
Release Date ~ September 1, 2012
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada
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.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.