The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron | Book Review

Book cover of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (LOVE this title!)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: ARC (courtesy of  Scholastic Press)
Genre: Historical fiction, Gothic, YA
Publication Date: 1 September, 2012
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.

She was the clock, a clock that had lost its key, unwinding in the dark.
-The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
I just loved the dark, Gothic, feel of The Dark Unwinding. The sense of atmosphere kept me up reading all night long until I had finished. Cameron describes Stranwyne Keep in rich detail, including fantastically odd and foreboding elements that set the scene for the mysteries of Stranwyne Keep, and Katharine's uncle, to unfold. I found out after reading (because I just had to look the author up), that Cameron found inspiration for the story in real places, people (or person, to be exact), and technology available at the time. Some of the strangest parts of the Keep are actually real! Mind-blowing. I must visit that place sometime in my life.

But back to the review: There are a few things that didn't win me over, mostly the fact that after the advertising I saw, I was expecting more steampunk than I got. There are steampunk elements (automatons), but not enough that I would classify it as such. It was also disheartening to find that the outcome of the story is pretty simple to guess. But in the end, I don't think that detracts too much from the eerie goodness that exists between the pages. There is definitely a mystery as to what is going on, and because the reader is only given the same knowledge as Katharine, there were many moments where I was pretty spooked.

Cameron's storytelling is so enthralling, I literally didn't stop reading. Katharine is a heroine you can respect, and the other characters earn your trust or dislike in such interesting ways. The love story is utterly romantic, and had me sigh-smiling in the goofiest way. I can confidently say that I haven't read their story in any other book. Buko bonus points! Although what got me the most, is how much these characters care about their community. The book tackles social stigmas and economic problems worthy of any Austen or Bronte story, in a way that endeared me to the cause (uh, even though we're way past social classes). The characters and their determination pretty much solidified the story as a favorite for me.

This book has Gothic novel written all over it. Someone within has dark intentions, and the story unwinds (pun intended) in the best way. Definitely one to pick up! Don't expect steampunk, but DO expect a well-written, dark, Victorian-era tale.

Now, please tell me there's a sequel!

Temp. Guide
Read this if:
...you like historical fiction, and you're in the mood for something reminiscent of the Bronte sisters' works.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Death and attempted murder. Everything else is scary/thrilling/happy.}

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Sharon Cameron:
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  1. I haven't read a lot of steampunk so if that's kind of lacking it wouldn't bother me. I love historical fiction and the Victorian Era so this book sounds great! Thanks for your review. I've now added this to my to-read list.
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  2. I have yet to read a steampunk book. Sad, huh? I need to give one a try.

  3. Love it when a book leaves you dying for a sequel! Great review Penelope!

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  4. If anything, the cover art is spectacular!! And I'm dying to have my hair look like hers!! Somebody please tell me it's airbrushed!! XD lols

  5. So far, my only steampunk reads have been the Infernal Devices books by Cassandra Clare (love!!)...but I'm a sucker for the Brontes and that whole Gothic style, so I'm really excited to read this now.


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