Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: The Dark Unwinding

Title: The Dark Unwinding
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: Steampunk
Rating: 5

The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron, is an excellent example of the Steampunk genre and a beautiful tale.

The story opens with the main character, Katharine, traveling across the countryside from the oppressive realm of her aunt to the unknown estate of an insane uncle. We see at once that, while Katharine is a young woman of poise and dignity, she is also concocting a scheme which will, in the long run, provide her a place in a society which looks down its nose at her.

She is sent to her uncle’s home in order that his property and wealth will pass from him to her cousin, a spoiled boy whose newfound estate will be run by his aunt. But if all goes according to plan, that will soon change, and Katharine will find herself as the proprietor of her cousin’s inheritance. There is just the small matter of pronouncing her uncle unfit to manage his own affairs, and that soon proves to be more difficult than she bargained for.

Amid a crumbling mansion filled with empty rooms and strange characters, Katharine discovers a good many of surprises lying in wait for her. Her uncle is an inventor and his estate supports two villages—both of which are populated by people who will do almost anything to keep him where he belongs and keep their home safe. As Katharine learns more about her uncle and those closest to him, she begins to wonder if her plan can still move forward—without hurting a large number of people, some of which have begun to show her friendship.

All at once, life at the estate becomes everything she wants and it all balances on the edge of the knife she holds. But as she prolongs her stay in hopes of coming up with an answer, strange occurrences, acts, and midnight wanderings leave her doubtful that she is in full command of her own sanity.

As any story which deals in any part with madness, there is bound to be some darkness here, as the title of the story suggests. This darkness shadows the movement of the story but does not retract from the bright canvas of setting and characters that Cameron creates. The story line was surprisingly fresh and new, filled with light bouts of humor and dark twists of mistrust and questions. Cameron’s is a delightful voice in narrative, and she seamlessly weaves a tale which at once haunts and satisfies.

I’m not usually a fan of stories that deal with madness, simply because of their inherent darkness, but The Dark Unwinding is an exception. The darkness, in every case, eventually gives way to lighter matters, and the plot twists inbetween kept me up late at night. I loved this book and highly recommend it as a wondrous read.

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