Original Release Date: August 27, 2012
Length: 318 pages
Official Description: (This is book #1 of The Dark Unwinding series)
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.
First of all I want to correct something. If you follow my Goodreads page then you’ll notice that I have shelved this under “Steampunk” I don’t really think it’s a true steampunk, not even close, but it wants to be. Not only does the cover have the gears and cogs one associates with the genre it has that cover and look to it. It’s not though, and there are so many novels that try to shove themselves in this genre. Steampunk is awesome, I love it, I haven’t read a great, true, one in a while.
Now that we’ve gotten that out-of-the-way lets move on to the good stuff, the book. I will not lie, the idea of Steampunk drew me in to this young adult novel. This is kind of mystery/coming of age story. Katharine was sent to her uncle’s estate to find proof that he needs to be locked away into a lunatic’s asylum. As an orphan being cared for by her aunt she must do this task, because if not she could have been thrown out and penniless. Her aunt wants the uncle gone so Katharine’s cousin would get the money and her aunt would be in charge of what is presumed to be a fortune. Katharine has no idea what she’s in for.
I loved the characters, they are not cut and paste characters that we’re used to in modern YA or NA fiction. They are unique, charismatic, you aren’t entirely sure who the bad guys are, there are just so many shades of grey. The heroine, or our protagonist, has the misfortune of being fated to either destroy her world, or the world of Mr. Tully and his village of people who were saved from work houses. It’s a hard choice, especially for a 17-year-old kid, who has never really had to make these kind of choices. There are inward struggles as well as outward struggles. It appears that Katharine is going crazy, she already has OCD, it appears, and she fears that she will go as mad as her uncle. It’s all really good, if you don’t mind the typical young adult feel to our main character. She is a bit on the whiney side, but all of the characters are robust, so I could overlook it. I love all the mysteries and the twist, most of which you could see miles away, but there are some sad things that happen that are kind of brushed over. Overall, it’s a great historical, young adult fiction with a bit of action and romance thrown in.
My Favorite Quote:
“Warm sun and robin’s-egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one’s uncle to a lunatic asylum.”