The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
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.
Rating: 8 out of 10
First Impressions: Fantastical twist on historical (yes, a version of the estate featured in this novel did exist; see author’s note) fiction. Read it if you want a suspenseful, not overwhelming romantic story of an ordinary teenaged girl in the 1800s, living among extraordinary circumstances and people.
Review: The Dark Unwinding sat on my shelf for a whole year while other, more anticipated novels filled my days. That is until about a week ago, when I found my copy wedged between two textbooks from my fall semester of sophomore year.
Katharine Tulman is the unwanted niece of Alice Tulman, a bothersome old woman set on making Katharine’s life a nightmare. She sends Katharine on a mission to Stranwyne Keep, an estate run by her suspected insane uncle where he has apparently depleted the family fortune. Katharine must confirm her uncle’s lunacy so that the rest of the fortune can be salvaged and preserved for her fat cousin.
When she first arrives to the estate, she is met with scorn and hate, for doing as her aunt wishes will ruin the lives of the thousands of men, woman and children that her uncle has employed. But eventually, she gets to know and understand her uncle, and begins to forge relationship with the peculiar cast of characters charges with the care of her uncle and his estate.
Met with sudden twists, the right amount of suspense and romance, and a nice dose of familial companionship, The Dark Unwinding is sure to be a hit with fans of the young adult genre. It has everything a good book should.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few bumps in the road.
I struggled through the first 150 pages or so. It’s set in the 19th century, so Cameron used older, more elaborate language, which I found to be overdone and just struck me as trying too hard. Like, the language definitely needed to be historically accurate, but to a certain degree. I think she took it a bit too far, and it almost made it less believable. To top it all off, none of the pieces started coming together or making sense until the 200 page mark, so it was kind of hard to get really into it.
It took me ten days to finish this book (10!), which is a lot compared to the last book I reviewed (Shadow and Bone) which only took two to finish. That being said, when you get to a certain point, you just can’t put it down.
Bottom line, this is a story about one girl trying to overcome her position in the world, and learning that, sometimes, overcoming your position means forgetting about your own problems and using your assets to help someone who can’t help himself. It’s about learning to be selfless, dealing with guilt, falling in love and sacrifice. Definitely a keeper.
PLUS, there is a sequel in the works! Always fun.