Yeah it's Friday! Time for some YA. Today I am looking at The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron.
Katharine Tulman lives under the care of her Aunt Alice, an old biddy who makes Katharine's life difficult. When Alice finds out that her late husband's brother is squandering away the family fortune, she sends Katharine to the old family estate to declare him insane and send him to an asylum.
When Katharine arrives at Stranwyne Keep she finds a puzzle. Hundreds of people live in a little village within Stranwyne, a village that is employed by her Uncle Tulman. If Katharine has her uncle Tully decalared a lunatic, then all the villagers will be out of work.
She also is face with the strangeness of her Uncle. He is rather peculiar, in today's time I'd believe him to be Autistic and have OCD. He is obsessed with clockworks and builds life-like inventions that move and talk. The villagers are against Katharine, knowing what she's come to do, and she feels unsafe. When she begins having nightmares and delusions, there is no one for her to turn to, not even her uncle's handsome assistant Lane.
A very interesting steampunkish novel with a deep mystery. The scene when Katharine first arrives at Stranwyne Keep is chilling and dark. It sets up the whole rest of the novel. There are always little bits of unease and mystery that pop-up. Katharine believes herself to be going insane, and the author does a great job of ramping up the tension. I did find it odd that Katharine doesn't confess her problems to anyone. Even Mary's mother makes the connection that if Katharine isn't really a drunk, then something nefarious is happening. Why is Katharine so blind to the fact that someone might be hurting her?
I have to say that the author does such a good job hiding the real bad person, that I didn't guess who it was. The reader knows there is a villain, but the clues often are red herrings and I fell for the trick! There is also the well developed character of Katharine. From the very beginning of the story the reader knows that Katharine will do what it takes to keep herself safe and eventually get out of Aunt Alice's grasp. Katharine is conflicted with the fate of the villagers, but she knows that if Aunt Alice doesn't take control of things, that she herself will be left without a future. Katharine's problems are realistic and she goes through visible growth as the story cycles.
The romance between Katharine and Lane is a bit disappointing. I didn't feel a deep connection between the two, and because of the time period, nothing beyond a kiss is manifest. Not that they needed to go further, just that there needed to be some sense of unrequited feelings.
Overall a fun read. 3 stars.