The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron comes out on my birthday, so reading this book was like an early birthday present. A TOTALLY AMAZING birthday present.
Katherine Tulman’s life is completely controlled by her Aunt Alice because of her mother and father’s unfortunate deaths nearly 17 years ago. One day, Aunt Alice tells her that she must travel to her Uncle Frederick’s estate so that she can testify that he is insane. Alice believes that Frederick is wasting all of his money on useless things; money that is destined to go to her son, Robert. Upon arriving at the estate, Katherine finds nothing but hostile people and a crazy uncle who loves making automatons. However, she also finds that her uncle has taken hundreds of people from the horrid workhouses of London and employed them in a little village of his own making, giving them nice homes and safer lives. Katherine knows that she will be ruining these peoples’ lives once she gets her uncle committed to the asylum, so all of this responsibility gives her pause. And her uncle’s handsome apprentice, Lane, tries everything he can to get her to fight for them. Really, how could she resist?
Characters! First of all, I thought Katherine was fantastic. I liked her right away. She was hilarious, saying things such as, “Wind and storm I had imagined more suited to my task; apocalyptic eclipse had never entered my mind.” She was also slightly conniving, thinking of ways she could manipulate her idiot cousin, Robert, into giving her money after her aunt died. It is apparent right away that Katherine is a math genius and she does not have a slow mind; she picks things up right away and can figure out mysteries quite quickly. Another thing Katherine said was, “…you can bet your buttons…” THAT IS MY FREAKING CATCHPHRASE. I say that all the time, so I connected with her even more after she said that line.
Lane was awesome. He didn’t open himself up to people very well, but he was extremely good with Uncle Tulman. In fact, he was an extremely realistic character that I fell in love with immediately. He always seemed so confident, but there were times when his vulnerability shined through that I thought made him seem really real. Davy, Lane’s little friend, was ADORABLE. He was about 10 years old and he carried around a bunny named Bertram and he was mute. The way that Lane and Davy interacted was the cutest thing that I have ever read and I loved it. Uncle Tulman was another likable character because he was old and crazy, but he was always happy and upbeat (except for when he freaked out). I thought Cameron did a fantastic job with depicting his craziness. When I first “met him,” I was like, “Woah, what is going on in that mind of his?” She did a wonderful job with all of the characters, and I fell in love with every single one of them (well, the good ones at least) by that story’s end.
This book was historical fiction, taking place in 1852 in England. I have a thing for historical fiction, especially when it takes place in England. I don’t know why, but I love nearly any book occurring in this time period in England. Anyway, I must commend the author because there was ABSOLUTELY NO INSTA-LOVE. That’s right, folks, a YA book without insta-love! Oh, the awesomeness! Relationships were not the main focus of this book and I liked it that way. There was just the right amount of romance and it felt real and sweet. I loved their love (but I’m not going to tell you whose love!)! I adored both the familial love and the romantic love in this book because both were quite adorable.
I seriously never wanted this book to end. I wanted it to just keep going and going forever and ever. I read through the whole thing with a smile on my face at the good times and tears in my eyes at the bad times. And I read it in just one day! Now I’m BEGGING for there to be another book and for it to come out IMMEDIATELY. I don’t know if I can wait any longer than that. That is how bad I want the next one and how much I loved this one. BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER.