Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dark Unwinding

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
3.5/5 stars
Scholastic Press, 2012
320 pages
YA Gothic Historical

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was interested in this book due to the publishers blurb referencing steampunk. However I would say that is inaccurate and I was reminded more of a Gothic-type novel. There are some cool inventions but there's no alternative-history and everything felt very grounded in Gothic conventions.

The beginning was very jarring to me, coming off of a fun breezy YA contemporary. The writing style was *so* different and I really struggled to get used to it. In fact, I'm not sure I ever felt comfortable with the language. This is weird because usually I can handle historical writing but not so much this time. Because of the writing, I had some trouble with the plot, not always able to follow what was going on.

The basic gist is that Katharine Tulman is being sent by her aunt to investigate her uncle (the aunt's brother-in-law) who seems to be spending his heir's inheritance (Katharine's nephew, the aunt's son) in a reckless manner that could cause him to be committed as insane. Katharine is set on visiting and reporting back to her aunt as quickly as she can, knowing that her own life is dependent on her aunt and then her nephew's largesse.

However upon arrival, Katharine is confronted with creepy unexplained happenings as well as confrontations with the various people on her uncle's estate, all of him do their best to thwart her. See, the uncle is a brilliant inventor but he seems to be autistic and thus does not seem "normal." He has specific routines that cannot be disrupted and those around him have accommodated. Those people are rescues from workhouses, brought to his estate to make their own productive village; this is apparently drawn from real-life where an actual British lord attempted something similar saving hundreds of families from the awful workhouses.

The book continues as Katharine resolves to wait thirty days before reporting back to her aunt. However events conspire to change everything when something big happens. I actually really liked the section after the big event (don't want to spoil you). But that's only about sixty pages so it just felt like too long to reach that point.

Overall: I feel like this is just a book that I couldn't click with. I totally recognize its merits (especially for lovers of Gothic novels and those who are not expecting steampunk when they pick it up) but it wasn't the book for me.

Cover: I love the dress, which I believe is the same shade as one that Katharine wears during the book but the gears are deceptive and toward steampunk, which this book is not.


  1. I hate it when publishers imply that a book is something it isn't. I'm sorry this turned out to be a disappointing book. I have an ARC of this one but haven't started it. Now I'm thinking I might not be able to get through it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on it. I have so many other books to read that I will be pushing this down further on my to-read pile.

    1. It's definitely not a bad book; it just wasn't what I expected. And the writing did not click with me. If you read the first couple of pages and find yourself intrigued, you'll probably end up liking it.

  2. I LOVE Gothic, so I'll read a few pages and see.
    And you know I agree 100% with the expectations thing. The gears on the cover say Steampunk to me, but the creepy mansion says Gothic. So I'd expect Gothic Steampunk. Which might be kind of cool...

  3. I never heard about this book before (I think) and it does sounds interesting. But, the cover...I'm not liking it and probably wouldn't pick it up. Sorry to hear that it didn't clicked with you. :)

  4. Sorry you didn't click with it. Hope you love your next read.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. I'm about 50-60 pages into it and I hope it gets better- I am really struggling! Thanks for the review! (This was probably not the book to pick directly after reading a fluffy book.... I see you had that problem too!)

  6. Oh thank goodness! I'm SO happy to hear you say this book is more Gothic than steampunk. I don't really click with steampunk but I LOVE Gothic fiction. I have a copy of this and I was a little reluctant to start it, but now you've made me very excited. Thanks! Though I am sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it as much. It's so frustrating when blurbs are misleading.

  7. I'm hearing the same things about this from other trusted bloggers. This is one that I was initially interested in reading, but after hearing the same concerns from practically all of the bloggers that know that are reading it, I'm not so sure I'll be investing the time into it anymore. Bummer too - I love that cover.


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