Fear not Friday Forecast follows this post! Welcome back...I am beginning to lose count of the days as we near the end. Here are the amazing stops today:
Maghon@Happy Tails and Tales Gift Card
Blu@ Not Now...Mommy's Reading: Katherine Meyer Griffin
Kai@Fiction State of Mind: Johnathon Mayberry
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Today I have a book that brings us a creepy, haunted house setting. I have Sharon Cameron here today to share with her thoughts on creating a suspenseful and scary setting. She proves she knows what she is doing in her book The Dark Unwinding. First, here is a bit more about Sharon:
Sharon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was born and raised. Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. You can find her on her website, Facebook, twitter and Goodreads.
Here is Sharon to share with her thoughts on setting:
A Dark and Stormy Night –It’s What We Really Want
At about six-years-old I can distinctly remember telling my mother how disappointed I was that the day was warm and sunny, because “nothing interesting ever happens on a sunny day.” And I think I was right. Literature-wise, anyway. “It was a dark and stormy night” is a memorable first line, not just because of the incredible run on sentence that follows, (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_was_a_dark_and_stormy_night) but because it was “dark,” “stormy,” and “night,” when all the dangerous (and therefore interesting!) things are possible. There’s something in all of us that is enticed by the danger of the dark.
Like when Jane enters Thornfield in Jane Eyre. Thornfield is vast, made of grim and forbidding stone, lonely, remote, filled with unexplained noises and an unseen, lurking menace. Not safe. As I reader, I was hooked. And it was much the same at Mrs. DeWinter’s first look at Manderley, and Catherine’s first step into Northanger Abbey. It’s the idea of being surrounded by an ancient and shadowy unknown, that shivery lack of safety that draws us like a moth to the lone candle flame.
Welbeck Abbey, the estate that inspired The Dark Unwinding, was no exception for me. Welbeck was perhaps not as grim as Thornfield, but it was vast and empty, hundreds of years old and riddled with gaslit, underground tunnels, some of them secret, one even beneath a lake. But I think what really sparked my imagination was the tinge of insanity that seemed to permeate everything on the estate—from pink paint in every room, to a mysterious recluse, to roller skating in underground ballrooms. Insanity is unpredictable, and definitely not safe. And when we’re not safe, that’s when we’re challenged, and it’s a challenge both the writer and the reader get to explore. What would I do in if I was all alone in a derelict house, opened a huge mahogany wardrobe and found human hair that perfectly matched my own? How would I react when I looked into the eyes of a clockwork automaton that is the image of my dead grandmother?
Life doesn’t often imitate art, and that’s probably a good thing. Some days are sunny, and sometimes the ancient manor house can have gingerbread trim. We don’t really want to find ourselves alone in the storm, testing our mettle against a roaming lunatic,
lost in a maze of dark and dusty rooms, pushing down that secret latch that allows the bookcase to creak open for the first time in two hundred years, showing the spider- webbed tunnel beyond. Or maybe that is exactly what we want to do! But isn’t that what reading is for?
Thank you Sharon! I loved hearing your thoughts. I agree, a dark and stormy night is just a better setting.....but I will take a sunny day anytime. Now for the giveaway! Thanks to the wonderful folks at Scholastic Publishing, I have two copies of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron up for grabs. Fill out the Rafflecopter. See Contest Policies if you are bored. Good Luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance! 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. Hardcover, 318 pages Published September 1st 2012 by Scholastic Press.
Katharine hates living under her Aunt Alice's thumb, but as a seventeen year old
orphan, she is forced to accept the charity of her aunt and do her bidding rather than
risk living in poverty. As a young woman in 1852 options are limited. Katharine
currently keeps the books for her aunt and it is her job to protect the inheritance of her
cousin, Fat Robert. When her aunt informs her that she is to visit her uncle and deem
him a lunatic so he can be locked up in an asylum, all in order to ensure that Robert will
inherit more money. Katharine dreads her duty, but she is willing to do what she can to
save the inheritance in hopes that she might be able to hatch a plan to secure her own
future. But once she arrives at Stranwyne and meets her Uncle Tully, her resolve
begins to falter. The longer she spends in the mysterious old house amongst the
villagers the more she questions her aunt's orders. Will Katharine obey her aunt or
choose to save her uncle?
What I Liked:
I liked that I was taken by surprise by this book. I was expecting a steampunk, paranormal read and what I got was something entirely different. I would classify this more of a mystery type book that is a bit Gothic. If you tend to steer away from steampunk books, I would say that this book has very little steampunk. It is a book with a lot of mystery and some big twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the final pages. I like books that catch me off guard and keep me calculating my hypothesis until the end, and then I am still wrong with my conjectures!
I enjoyed the diverse characters in this one. Katharine's Uncle Tully is indeed a bit different. He is someone who is childish and lacks proper socialization but he possesses a brilliant mind and he invents the most spectacular clock work toys. He is perhaps best described as an autistic savant, but since this book takes place in the mid 1800s his exact condition is unknown. It doesn't matter because he is whimsical and fun and he stole my heart. I also enjoyed Davy the mute boy, although he is mute, he is intelligent and sweet. Finally, Katharine is a girl caught in a stick situationand I like how she is tortured by her decision to do the right thing, and in the end I was so pleased with how she grew and stood on her own two feet.
- I enjoyed Ms. Cameron's writing style, it is different and complex and full of detailed descriptions. I thought her tone fit perfectly with the story.
And The Not So Much:
This book is billed as a romance, but the romantic relationship is quiet and movesslowly. I kept expecting something to manifest but it really doesn't until the end. There are looks and little flutters, and at times I thought a love triangle might form, but in the end there are some sparks and a bond. If you are expecting a breath taking romance that fuels the plot this will be a disappointment, but if you like subtle and slow this will work for you.
I wanted a bit more on Katharine's history with her aunt. Was her life completely miserable with her aunt? Did her aunt treat her horribly always? The reader conjectures that Katharine was caught in her aunt's clutches but it isn't clear what her life was like under her aunt's roof.
The pacing in this one is slow. The story plods along dropping clues along the way. Leaving the reader wondering what is going on, and to be honest, at times, it's even a bit confusing. I pressed on, though and once I entered the final third the book took on a new life. All the clues starting dropping into place and I was able to get a clearer picture. The pace picks up dramatically and there are so many big surprises and reveals that will have you anxiously turning the pages until the end. Be patient with this one, it does pay off! I really enjoyed that the ending was unexpected.
- I was a bit disappointed that this book does not have a paranormal aspect. In the beginning, I thought that the house was haunted and there would be ghosts, but alas, everything is explained and there is nothing supernatural in this one.
The Dark Unwinding was a book full of mystery and surprises. It has a suspenseful, haunting atmosphere and memorable characters. This book is different and unexpected and it refrains from cliffhanger endings and love triangles, a nice refreshing find in this genre. Step outside your normal reading zone and give this one a try.
"Warm sun and robin's egg skies were inappropriate conditions for sending one's uncle to a lunatic asylum."
"And you are very silent. I do not like silence. It leaves room for thoughts that are not nice."
"Seconds are very good to count, but never years. There is too much waiting for the next one."
"If today were only one tick in a room full of clocks, unchanging and unhurried, would he let me make him laugh, put my hands in his hair, take away that lingering melancholy that I could see it ring the edge of his thoughts?"
"Little things become big things."
A big thanks to Scholastic Publishing for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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