A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2)

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A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 24, 2013
ISBN
9780545328135
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The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron's blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust--if anyone--to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Raving Mad in Love with this Series
(Updated: January 20, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
First of all, let me say this: The Dark Unwinding series is NOT steampunk fantasy. Ok? And let me just say, it doesn't need to be. If you pick it up because of that, please keep reading even if it doesn't fall into that category. Also, the author goes back in time on occasion as well as into the realm of dreams, so when I speak of Lane, it is not to tell you whether or not she has found him. You'll have to read the book to find that out.

After finally gaining access to the e-book of The Dark Unwinding (in order to read this), I wondered if it would be worth all the trouble (library had some issues, as do I with jumping into a series midway!). And oh, my, how happy I am to have gone to all the trouble! This series is right up my alley. It has every element this girl could possibly desire, including a quiet and brooding love interest, beautiful dresses (with not too much attention put on them, either), old houses and tunnels and incredible inventions and contraptions, enduring, loyal love, and true-to-history cities, villages, and landscapes. And moors. What girl that enjoys old, romantic novels doesn't love the moors?

Okay, the moors aren't included in this sequel, but Cameron satisfied my hunger for more of these characters and elements and then some. She took me to France? Oh, la, la, could she have done more than this for me? I felt like she was writing this book just for me. I'm gushing, I know.

Katharine Tulman will stop at nothing to protect her Uncle Tully and to find her missing love, Lane. (I love that name. Do I love everything? Yes, I do. There will not be a "what I didn't like" in this review). She puts herself and many others at risk to protect his life and his work. She does this because she is devoted in the extreme to him and to his livelihood. THIS right here is why Katharine is such an amazing heroine. Her uncle is living in a time when his eccentricities would have been considered lunacy, although to us it is clear that he must have autism or some other similar condition, and she can see past his draining needs and tantrums into his heart. She loves him and his childlike ways, and she loves his home that has become her own. With so many heroines bordering on self-obsession, Katharine's love of others is a breath of fresh air. She does have her own desires in mind as well, but even then, she is able to see throughout the book when she has acted foolishly or selfishly, and she bears much guilt as she is proceeding with her plans to save Uncle Tully and find Lane. She doesn't go through with her ideas with a bullheaded arrogance. Katharine is one amazing young woman.

Sharon Cameron has a knack for world-building as well. It is not often that I am able to picture places and faces well in my mind, but she paints the scenery in my head with her words, touching just enough on the wallpaper here or the stonework there to build the street or the church or the tunnel in the workings of my mind. She describes the way Katharine has a knot of anxiety in her stomach or the spill of tears on her hands in a uniquely beautiful way that captivated me. And the interplay of interaction between Lane and Katharine is breathtaking; they have a chemistry that goes deep, and their words and actions weave into a dance that is lovely to behold. I wish I could see those sea-gray eyes of his, she describes them over and over but each time is different and intriguing.

I also really liked that she drops hints here and there of the plot line, and it allowed me to pick up some of the pieces, but most certainly not all. I was pleasantly surprised with how everything turned out, and boy is there a whopper I did not see coming at the end.

Oh, there is one thing I didn't like: the villain. I hate him. And yet, you can see, that is a good thing. Cameron has created a classic but still yucky villain we can all despise. Wanting to see his demise (is that gruesome?) kept me turning the pages of A Spark Unseen as well.

A Spark Unseen, like it's prequel The Dark Unwinding, is a book you will not want to miss if you are a fan of historical novels like me.
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One of My Favorite Heroines
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
What I liked:
The Dark Unwinding enchanted and delighted me, so, upon the news that there would in fact be a sequel, I was thrilled, even though such surprise sequels generally result in angry Twitter rants. Of course, sequels to books that were closed enough that you didn't know there would be one can be a tricky business. Though I didn't enjoy A Spark Unseen as much as its predecessor, I'm still happy to have read it and would, if a third pops up, read that one too without a doubt.

In The Dark Unwinding, I fell in love with the characters that call Stranwyne Keep home, and they are just as wonderful in A Spark Unseen. Katherine Tulman very much takes center stage this time, because Lane's missing and Uncle Tully is incapacitated because reasons for much of the book. Though I did miss them, Katherine is a magnificent heroine. She's incredibly strong emotionally and intellectually, and I completely love her for the way she stands up to people. Also, she may be the inheritor of an estate, but she doesn't think herself better than anyone else because of an accident of birth and fortune. At one point, her maid, Mary, rings a bell for her to come and she does, shocking a visitor, but that's the sort of person Katherine is.

One of the highlights of A Spark Unseen turns out to be Mrs. Hardcastle. Initially, she's this nosy, untrustworthy busybody. Over the course of the book, though, she begins showing hidden depths. I mention this fairly minor character to highlight an aspect of Cameron's characterization that I love: people are not dismissed as stereotypes. Uncle Tully could have been dismissed, as he is by many, as a nutcase, but he's respected and loved by the people of Stranwyne Keep. He's brilliant if you stand by to see that, and I like the way Cameron gives depth even to more minor characters.

Now, I do warn that a very minor spoiler is ahead, so you can duck out now if you wish. One of the big plot points is that Lane, Katherine's love interest, has been gone for a year and a half, and is now presumed dead. Katherine heads to Paris to search for him, and, inevitably finds him. A heroine finding her love interest alive in this sort of book is to me not a spoiler, but whatever. Anyway, my very favorite part of the book is when Katherine takes Lane to task for not contacting her and for trying to push her away for her own good. She monologues at him for a couple of pages, and it is a thing of beauty. More heroines need to act this way when their boys start making decisions for them. You tell him, girl!

What Left Me Wanting More:
However, much as I love the characters, I did struggle a bit with A Spark Unseen. I feel like the plot of The Dark Unwinding was more character-focused with an almost magical realism feel to Uncle Tully's toys. A Spark Unseen goes much more heavy on the historical and the political. Sadly, I'm not as interested in the political machinations as I am in the interactions of the colorful cast. For readers who are more plot-focused, I'm sure A Spark Unseen will be your favorite of the two novels. There are also some intriguing twists for those who like those best.

The Final Verdict:
Though not my favorite of the series, A Spark Unseen does contain the magic that made The Dark Unwinding a favorite. As ever, I eagerly anticipate whatever Sharon Cameron writes next.
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User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
5.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
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I love these books
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
These books are definitely more about the Adventure and Mystery then they are romance. Which is not to say there isn’t swoonworthy romance because there is it just doesn't take precedence.

I loved Katharine, she is this unbelievable kick butt character but in a way her hands are tied to the extent that she can be kick butt. Just do the society standards. I also love her loyalty to Uncle Tully and how she has inherited some of his intricacies as well. She counts everywhere she goes, doing constant numbers in her I head. I kind of wonder if she were to help Uncle Tully with his inventions if she would not find that she has a knack for it herself. Katharine has inherited a great responsibility of having to take care of her uncle on her own, with Lane gone to Paris. She does her best but with evil doers trying to take advantage of his talents, she soon finds the best course of action is to flee for now.

The book picks up close to where we left off. Lane has been gone for months and presumed dead, even though Katharine does not believe that to be true. She is taking care of the vast estate on her own with assistance from Mr. Babcock. As with the first book the action and mystery picks up right from the start and we are sent on whirlwind adventure. I love so many aspects of these books. The historical infused with steampunk. The way things play out and how Katharine as much as she doesn’t want to, still has to try to play her role in society.

There are new characters introduce and even though there is not a strong threat of Aunt Alice, the gossip mill does not stop. Especially when Mrs. Hardcastle is only a door or wall away in her new home. There is also the introduction of Henri Marchand. There is no question of a love triangle, it’s obvious that Katharine only has her heart set to Lane, alive or dead but Henri brings a certain amount of intrigue. He seems to be very watchful and protective of Katharine but as a skeptic learned from extensive reading of mysteries, I wonder if he has sinister motives.

This book has a fantastic ending. I love how the plot plays out and especially how the characters play out. All is revealed and things you thought might not always be true. We see who are enemies are and those who turn out to be simple frenemies. Let me tell you there is a part with Katharine at the end that I wish I could share as in excerpt. I can see me rereading it in my future.

So if you enjoy your historical fiction with some steampunk this book is perfect for you. It’s definitely one of my favorites
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