Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron is a YA novel published by Scholastic Inc. in 2012. It is aimed at readers ages 12 and up, but due to the language, I'd recommend this book to readers who are advanced at age 12. The language is similar to something like an amateur version of the language of Tolstoy or Edith Wharton. The language came across as a little off-putting to me, largely because it did nothing for the likability of the protagonist.

Katharine Tulman is a little spoiled, a little self-centred, and a little rude. She is poorly treated by her aunt, who is also her guardian, and she is treated like a servant girl in her own home; poor little rich girl! She is a difficult character to like, but she DOES redeem herself by the end of the novel, transforming from an entitled girl of misfortune to a heroic and brave young woman.

The characterization of Katharine's mad uncle was interesting, but at times, a little off-putting as his character and his background wasn't really developed. Sometimes I even found the uncle to be a touch offensive. I have a grandparent with Dementia--this character comes across more as silly than unstable. As this novel is aimed at a younger audience, I think the author chose to keep the text very "PG" and light, and while I can respect that, his madness needs to have rhyme and reason. I'm sad to say he wasn't a very convincing character who harboured my interest or sympathies--usually he harboured my disdain.

While the analogy of the clock bound up with one's sanity was very good, and as the action leading to the end of the book was gripping, the character development was lacking and I found the "romantic, London language" to affect my enjoyment of the text.

I think this book would have done better if it had been written for an older audience. Considering the themes and some of the shocking revelations, it could have been a teen read. I think it would have been much better as a teen read.

I didn't dislike this book, but it was nothing special for me. The beginning is a little dry, and I dislike books where I need to work to like the protagonist, the book picks up about halfway through and sets up a promising sequel. A Spark Unseen was published Oct 2013 by Scholastic Inc.

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