Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron- Review

From Goodreads:
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.

There was much to love in The Dark Unwinding, historical lavishness, steampunk curiosities, mysteries around every corner and an enchanting cast of characters.  I was hard pressed to believe this rich world, and beautifully written plot were the creation of a debut writer.

Sold originally as Clockwise Turning, The Dark Unwinding and it's untitled sequel were sold pre-emtivly to scholastic back in 2010.  And after looking at some of the extras on Sharon Cameron's site about the estate which inspired Stranwyne Keep, automatons, and her list of beloved books (Yay! Rebbecca!), it seemed considerably less surprising Cameron wrote such a strong debut.

Besides a captivating writing style, which sucked me in from the first few paragraphs, Cameron anchors her gothic/fantasy world with a social commentary that ended up being the heart of the matter for me. She talks extensively about poverty and disability from a historical point in time which had little respect for either.   Katharine's relationship with her uncle and Davy was so winsome I can't imagine a reader not loving her for it.  How she handles both of them is easily a lesson to all of us in how patience and kindness can make such a difference in everyones relationships.

Quiet, intense Lane was a perfect counterpoint to Katherine, and I liked how Cameron didn't muddie the waters with a love triangle when these two were so perfectly matched to one another.  I especially appreciated that it was Katherine's abilities with Davy and her uncle which first seems to attract Lane to her, and not some silly pretty dress moment.  So much of Lane and Katherine's relationship is about their personalities, and Cameron stays away from the usual electric tension/lust fueled scenes so prevalent in YA romance.

Cameron's characters all have such strength and tenacity.  They're brave, tough and willing to fight for a good cause, with nary a fainter in the bunch.  Katherine is her own knight in shining armour, and the only characters needing protection are Davy and Tulman, who everyone bands together to look after- while still respecting them as people.

An enchanting debut, I guarantee will sweep you off your feet.  It will undoubtedly be and excellent start to your fall reading.

The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron
Published by Scholastic, September 1st, 2012
Buy The Dark Unwinding on Amazon
My copy kindly provided by the publisher


  1. It sounds great, I love YA Steampunk

    1. I would call this soft steampunk, and more heavily gothic. The Book Smugglers were complaining that it wasn't steampunk at all, but I disagree. I think the clockwork and automaton's in the story give it a steampunk element, although it's not a full on steampunk world.