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The Dark Unwinding Hardcover – September 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545327865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545327862
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-10-Katherine Tulman, 17, faces an impossible decision when she arrives at Stranwyne Keep, in 1852. Her avaricious aunt wishes to seize the profitable estate and orders Katherine's visit so that she may declare her husband insane. Upon her arrival, however, Katherine learns that her eccentric uncle's clockwork factory employs hundreds of individuals plucked from workhouses. Doing her aunt's bidding would undoubtedly send them back into poverty. Katherine receives a warm welcome from her likely autistic uncle and a quirky village girl, Mary Brown. Her uncle's brooding assistant and his aunt treat her with greater suspicion. Katherine wonders if she, like her Uncle Tully, is losing her grip on reality as she struggles with nighttime visions. She must decide between her self-interest and her uncle's well-being even as more sinister characters begin to emerge. Cameron's debut novel reads like a steampunk fantasy. Detailed descriptions of the keep and grounds make for admirable world-building. Secret passages, canals, and Victorian furnishings drip from every page. Tully's clockwork creations seem wondrous, even eerily animated, adding to the story's chilling sense of dread. The villain's identity will be obvious to readers, and Katherine wavers overlong in her deliberations, but teens are not likely to mind as they experience Katherine's romantic and moral dilemma. Hand this to fans of Kenneth Oppel or Libba Bray, and readers who pursue history, invention, or romance. They will find Cameron's scientific fable to their taste.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Seventeen-year-old Katharine Tullman is faced with an onerous task: her mean-spirited and acerbic Aunt Alice is sending her to Stranwyne to commit her Uncle Tully to an asylum, thus saving the family fortune that he is rumored to be depleting. While he is admittedly strange—he would probably be labeled autistic today—his estate and fantastical creations are providing the means to rescue families from the poorhouse, allowing them to live together as they care for him and the property. First-time novelist Cameron has based this delightful tale on the fifth Duke of Portland’s Victorian estate, Welbeck Abbey, which provided work for poor families in a similar manner during the 1850s. A Sue Alexander Award winner, Cameron has created characters worthy of this larger-than-life estate and a plot that is as convoluted and surprising as the house itself. With villains morphing into friends and friends morphing into foes, the novel, while perhaps not an easy sell, will reward those readers who enjoy historical fiction served up with a dash of the strange, the mysterious, and the romantic. Grades 7-12. --Frances Bradburn

More About the Author

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit her website at sharoncameronbooks.com

Customer Reviews

The ending of this book is very bittersweet!
Alyssa
Creepy and atmospheric, The Dark Unwinding was a refreshing read and one I highly recommend to fans of Gothic mysteries and light Steampunk.
ODell @ Book Twirps
Katharine- Everything I love in a lead female character.
Joy Kimberly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C.J. Listro on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
the basics
I will tentatively say that this is my favorite young adult book of the entire year! It's definitely up with Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein and Everneath by Brodi Ashton. The Dark Unwinding combines so many of my favorite things: action, hints of the supernatural, psychology, pretty Victorian dialogue, a capable heroine you don't want to punch, and a romance that builds slowly instead of sparking from first glance. Add some eerie children, evil aunts, and magical clockwork figures and you have one thrilling steampunk adventure. Cameron's writing is beautiful. She takes the Victorian style and gives it a modern flavor that teens can enjoy.

plot . 4.5/5
The only notch I took off here was for the ending. I wasn't quite sure if I was satisfied with the final reveal. To me, it made it a bit too real-world and I'd been enjoying the sort of magical isolation of Stranwyne. However, it's a small notch. The rest of the plot was fabulous, from the first (darkly funny) line. You never get a chance to be bored. Every time things begin to settle down, a new wrench is thrown into the mix. By the end, you realize that all those little details you discounted earlier fit together in a huge intrigue. It all makes sense, but you'd never see it coming. The twist during Katherine's party was my favorite moment. The romance was a close second; I don't like romance novels, but I love a good romance embedded in a thrilling plot. This was one where I was rooting for the pairing from the beginning and felt so satisfied at how long it took to develop. I was also expecting something supernatural to happen the whole time; Cameron plays a good game, keeping you guessing how much is real.

concept . 5/5
The cover blurb delivers everything it promises, and more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Housework Can Wait on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
From the first page, I knew I loved Sharon's prose. I just wanted to wallow around in it. Her descriptions of the Tulman estate, where most of the book is set (and which is based on Welbeck Abbey in England, during the time of the Fifth Duke of Portland - a fascinating study in and of itself) are lush and vivid, and she does an amazing job of conveying the feelings of creepiness and mystery, but also wonder and joy, that permeate the story.

Her characters are varied and intriguing. There is prim and proper Katharine, the narrator, who is forced to choose between protecting her own grim future or that of her Uncle and his 900 tenants. There is wonderfully eccentric and childlike Uncle Tully, who brightened every scene he was in while also contributing a note of sadness. Katharine's wretched Aunt Alice is the "villain" hanging over the entire story, concerned only with securing wealth for her son and making Katharine as miserable as possible, and every mention of her made me grit my teeth in frustration. Then we have the tenants of the estate, the dark and brooding Lane, with his eye for faces and unwavering loyalty to Mr. Tully; mute little Davy, who sees more than anyone realizes, and his constant companion, the rabbit Bertram; Mrs. Jefferies, who protects those she loves with a fiery fierceness; Ben Aldridge, whose fascination with Mr. Tully's automatons seemed to overshadow everything else; and Mary Brown, Katharine's maid, whose constant chatter filled many a silence.

Sharon spends just the right amount of time dropping careful clues about what's going on that I was never lost, but not so many that I knew exactly what was going on.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen @ My Life is a Notebook on September 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
~This review is based off an ARC received from NetGalley~

Never before have I read an ARC and needed to insert a disclaimer into the review.

I need to do so now.

This is not a knock against the fantastic folks who allowed me and others to read an ARC of this book. This is more of why there is such a caution about reviewing ARCs. ARCs are never edited as they will be when they are released. However, The Dark Unwinding's Kindle ARC version was one of the hardest ARCs I've ever tried to read. It lacked capital letters, formatting and a lot of punctuation. The reason I'm telling you this is so that you will PLEASE take my review with a grain of salt when I talk about places of confusion while reading the ARC. It is entirely possible they will not exist in the finished version.

Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about the STORY!

This book intrigued me right from the get-go, and the world did not disappoint. I've really never read much steampunk, so I soaked in each and every description about Uncle Tully's creations. The description in this book, whether it be for the inventions or just the setting, was really fantastic, and I could always see each scene right in my head. What I really liked was that there wasn't too much emphasis placed on the "fantastical" elements of the book. Sometimes, people writing in fantasy, scifi, etc, have a tendency to hit the reader over the head with how new and exciting their setting is, but Cameron just let it roll like it was an everyday thing that needed only the slightest explanation. Infodumping was never a problem here.

The characterization of this book was interesting.
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