The dark unwinding

Sharon Cameron, 1970-

Book - 2012

In 1852, when seventeen-year-old Katharine is sent to her family's estate to prove that her uncle is insane, she finds he is an inventor whose work creating ingenious clockwork figures supports hundreds of families, but strange occurences soon have her doubting her own sanity.

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Cameron Sharon Checked In
New York : Scholastic Press 2012.
1st ed
Physical Description
318 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Main Author
Sharon Cameron, 1970- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In 1852, 17-year-old orphan Katharine Tulman is faced with a monumental task: travel from London to Stranwyne Keep, her uncle's Victorian estate in the country, and commit him to an asylum. He has supposedly become "unbalanced in his mind" and is depleting Katharine's cousin's inheritance with his projects—and Katharine herself has designs on that money. Strange, haunting things begin to happen the moment haughty Katharine arrives at Stranwyne, but her attitude changes as she discovers her uncle's ingenious toy inventions, learns about his gasworks that employ and house hundreds from the workhouses, and falls for his attractive apprentice, Lane. Just as romance and fun enter Katharine's life for the first time, she begins to have inexplicable, violent episodes that put her future, the town, and England in peril. Inspired by the life of an eccentric real-life duke, Cameron's eerie and suspenseful first novel offers gripping twists, rich language, and an evocative landscape. Readers should find it easy to become fully absorbed in this gothic coming-of-age story about finding unexpected freedom. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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, CT [Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In 1852, when seventeen-year-old Katharine is sent to her family's estate to prove that her uncle is insane, she finds he is an inventor whose work creating ingenious clockwork figures supports hundreds of families, but strange occurences soon have her doubting her own sanity.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Traveling to her eccentric uncle's remote English estate to commit him to an asylum where he will not be able to squander their family's fortune, Katharine Tulman discovers that her uncle is actually a genius inventor who employs hundreds of people he has rescued from London workhouses. An award-winning first novel.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the award-winning author of Rook comes a delicious and twisty tale, filled with spine-tingling intrigue, juicy romance, and dangerous family secrets.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. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.