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A Reader of Fictions: Review: A Spark Unseen Blog Hop, Day 3

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: A Spark Unseen Blog Hop, Day 3

A Spark Unseen
The Dark Unwinding, Book 2

Author: Sharon Cameron
Pages: 352
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Read: September 9
Source: ARC from publisher for Book Vortex's blog tour

Description from Goodreads:
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.

Previous Book in Series:
The Dark Unwinding

First Sentence: "I opened my eyes, the air in my bedchamber pulsing with the kind of silence that only comes in the wake of sound — a sound that never should have been there."

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!

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.

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.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'And I suppose,' I said quietly, 'that you thought the loss of my good name would be too much for me. Would have me flying to pieces and make my life unlivable. Well, thank you so much for making that decision for me, Mr. Moreau. It was obviously my good name I was searching every hospital in Paris for!'"

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Blogger Kayla Beck said...

We're the opposite when it comes to this series - I liked this installment better. I'm not a big fan of not knowing whether or not my narrators or main characters are insane, so I was shaking The Dark Unwinding throughout most of it.

I think I'd like to actually see a prequel to these books before a sequel. It would be interesting to read about the grandmother (whose name I cannot recall for the life of me).

September 11, 2013 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Really? I love unreliable narrators. Mwahahaha. Marianne or Marianna, something like that. Hmmm, I think a sequel's more likely tbh, because of the revelations there at the end.

September 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I stopped reading at the fourth paragraph of your review when you mentioned a spoiler. I am actually reading this now, and don't typically read reviews of books that I am reading or will be soon. I'm glad to see that you did enjoy it even though not as much as the first one. I am not that far into it, but I am really enjoying it so far. I loved the first one.

September 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm quite excited to finally (hopefully soon) read my copy of TDU. It sounds wonderful and with a lot of heart. It's too bad this one let you down in a few ways, but I can totally understand not being into the political side of things.

Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

September 15, 2013 at 3:41 PM  

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