Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

Monday, December 23, 2013
Title: A Spark Unseen
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: young adult, historical fiction, steampunkish
Series: The Dark Unwinding #2
Pages: 352
Published: September 24 2013
Source: the lovely and kind Ashleigh Paige of The YA Kitten
Rating: 4/5

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.

I remember being fond of Sharon Cameron's The Dark Unwinding when I read it late in 2012. It was a fun, thrilling, occasionally action-packed and creepy read, complete with some compelling characters. Recalling it as a pretty good but not individually distinctive read, I was surprised by how much fun I had while reading the second novel in the series. A Spark Unseen picks up around 18 months after the end of The Dark Unwinding and Cameron wastes no time and pulls no punches. It's full of the same action and intrigue that made the first so enjoyable, but ups the ante in almost every way.

A Speak Unseen may have not been needed, necessarily, as book one solidly wrapped up the extant plotlines, but it is more than a rehash of what has come before. With new threats, both foreign and local, forcing Uncle Tully into hiding, a move to Paris complicates the plot and the lives of the characters. The new location shakes things up and allows for some new characters to appear (Henri, Mrs. DuPont) and for old characters to shine (Mary, Mr. Babcock). The uneasy alliance between Napoleon III and Queen Victoria hangs over the head of the characters, and the increased tension between the two allied nations provides some new angles for the plot to follow.

Though this series is non-supernatural and more proto-steampunk than an actual steampunk novel, Katharine Tulman and A Spark Unseen are the spiritual, bookish soul sisters of Eleanor Fitt and A Darkness Strange and Lovely. Though Katharine wrestles with governments instead of the undead, these two girls' life stories are strikingly similar. Both have had to grow up before their time, both have fashioned a family for themselves out of friends, both love an "inappropriate" man because of his lower social standing, and both take off for Paris to save someone they love. If you enjoy Susan Dennard's series about a strong teenage lead, then A Spark Unseen will give you more the same.

Katharine Tulman is a great character. Her strong family bond with her Uncle is the relationship that anchors her, and though she searches for Lane, her every move and thought is with Tully in mind. The relationship between Katharine and Lane, the one that sent a thousand Society tongues wagging, is firmly on the back-burner. For nearly 2/3 of the novel, Lane isn't even present. He's presumed dead, and only Katharine, with her trademark stubbornness, refuses to accept. The chemistry between the two is as palpable adnd believable as ever, but the best part of their interactions is when Katharine lets him have it -- for PAGES -- for the way he treated her. It is Magnificent.

Like The Dark Unwinding before it, all threads from A Spark Unseen seem to have been satisfactorily wrapped up. The ending is tidy and neat, but there is a little wiggle room left for another possible story with these characters. And if that story was as good as A Spark Unseen, I cannot wait to read it.


  1. I agree completely! I love Kate as a character and really hope there will be a sequel, only because I'm not tired of these characters or their world. Plus, the romance in this series is so perfectly paced and equal, which is so refreshing. Wonderful review, Jessie!

  2. I really enjoyed this series. Cameron's writing is slow yet never boring and things build up very nicely. I love the romantic parts and just overall a great (and under-hyped) read. Great review.


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