Sunday, December 2, 2012
Review: The Dark Unwinding
Today's book is The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, one of our holiday picks for teens.
In Victorian England, Katharine lives as a ward of her aunt, whose primary goal is to see her spoiled son inherit the family fortune. However, it looks like that plan might be in jeopardy when the current patriarch is suspected of mental incompetence causing him to squander his money on the family estate. Katharine is sent to have him committed, but instead of finding a feeble old man wasting his fortune, she discovers an artistic savant housing and employing 900 people in the pursuit of his clockwork contraptions. She must decide whether she can trade the small measure of independence that comes from managing her aunt's books for the long-term benefit of dozens of families who would otherwise be sent to the London workhouses.
Cameron has written a richly detailed story that often feels like a fantasy, although everything in it is realistic. It would be a shame to tell you the best aspects of her writing in a review since a large part of the enjoyment is in realizing how they've been unfolding around you without you even noticing. There is a little bit of something for everyone here, from quiet pastoral scenes and smoldering star-crossed love to heart-pounding chase scenes and conniving villains.
This book is recommended for grown-up fans of The Secret Garden, those who love a strong, determined heroine, devotees of the Victorian Gothic novel, and anyone looking for careful depictions of the autism spectrum.
The Dark Unwinding is published by Scholastic Press and retails for $17.99 (hardcover). I read a complimentary copy from the publisher. You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!