Book Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (4/5)

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Set in Victorian times, The Dark Unwinding opens with a gothic atmosphere. Our main character, Katherine Tulman, is a penniless orphan who must obey the commands of her tyrannous Aunt Alice. So when Aunt Alice sends her to the countryside to proclaim her uncle mentally insane, Katherine resigns herself to do so.

Little does she know, she falls in love with the world her uncle lives in. Her uncle is (I think) a savant. He’s marvelously talented at numbers and inventions, yet mentally a child. At his estate, a whole community of people flourishes – can Katherine really destroy everything they have? Can she commit her childlike uncle to an asylum?

I really liked the gothic, almost steampunk-like feel of the setting and atmosphere. The characters all have very distinct personalities and voices – Davy, the mute little boy with the hare, is particularly lovable. And then, the classic love interest, Lane, is stereotypically tall, moody, dark and annoying (to me).

For some reason, I think I liked the ideas more than the actual book. There is definitely skill, novelty and risk-taking in Sharon Cameron’s writing and plot…but I can’t help but feel like The Dark Unwinding could have been something deeper, something more emotionally entangling.

***book provided by Creative Kids Magazine for review

Read more of my book reviews here on my blog: Remembering Wonderland!

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Book Review: The Books of Elsewhere #1: The Shadows by Jacqueline West (4.5/5)

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The Books of Elsewhere is absolutely amazing. I’m afraid I have to compare it to Harry Potter. It’s just as brilliant as Harry Potter, only with more of an appeal towards the middle grade audience. Jacqueline West has infused her words with wry humor, chock-full-of-personality characters (especially the talking cats), a suspenseful plot, imagination and strong underlying messages.

Here’s the premise: 11-year-old Olive is the only child of two mathematicians. Thing is, she’s not good at math at all! Instead, she has something of a wild imagination. When her family moves into an abandoned house on Linden street, she’s the only one who senses something strange and spooky. The paintings, the cats, the rumors. But Olive only finds out how strange and spooky when she discovers the secret – the paintings are portals to a place called Elsewhere. And someone in the house wants to get rid of her family….

From the first line of The Books of Elsewhere, I knew I’d love this book. West has a very original writing style that’s both down-to-earth and amusing. But that’s not all – there’s a wonderful plot and very real characters. I imagine elementary school kids, middle school kids and anyone older will greatly enjoy The Books of Elsewhere. Speaking of which, my nine-year-old brother just ran off with my copy of the book…

***copy provided by Creative Kids Magazine

Read more of my reviews here on my blog: https://rememberingwonderland.wordpress.com