Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron


Title: A Spark Unseen (A Dark Unwinding, #2)

Author: Sharon Cameron

Rating: 4 Stars

I read this entire duology over the course of a weekend - on my iPhone, that too! Needless to say, it was impossible to put down and I loved every moment spent in this world. A Spark Unseen, the highly anticipated follow-up to A Dark Unwinding, is both stronger and weaker than its predecessor. On one hand, it manages to hit very high notes in certain areas; on the other hand, it fell flat for me in places where its predecessor did not. Yet, on the whole, both these books are identical in their level of reading pleasure, aesthetic appearance, and historical accuracy. While I never expected to see it, Cameron has, well and truly, written a spectacular historical fiction duology.

A Spark Unseen begins nearly two years after A Dark Unwinding has ended. In the opening scene itself, a kidnapping attempt on Uncle Tully is foiled, leaving Katharine with no choice but to leave her beloved estate. Uncle Tully, as established in the first book, is a genius, though an autistic one. It is his strict need for structure and moments of troubled interaction that allow others to believe he is insane, when, in fact, he is not. Now, caught up in the midst of an emerging battle between England and France, with both countries vying for the better weapons, Uncle Tully's inventions have come under the eye of politicians and others who wish to exploit him. Faced with no other option, Katharine whisks her uncle away to safety in Paris; both to keep him away from others and to find Lane Moreau. It is a tumultuous time that Katharine vastly underestimates, however, and in her quest to protect those dear to her, she finds both unlikely allies...and enemies.

With such an enticing opening, A Spark Unseen grabs readers from the first page and keeps them hooked...for awhile. Where this novel lagged, for me, was in its change of scenery. Although I recognize the necessity of this to keep the plot moving forward, I cannot claim that Paris held nearly as much atmosphere as Stranwyne Keep. Instead, the setting of this novel felt very much a backdrop to the plot instead of an entity all on its own and the absence of many beloved secondary characters was strongly felt. A Spark Unseen has its own cast of new introductions, from the charming Henri to the nosy Mrs. Hardcastle, but with the exception of these two, the rest failed to make much of an impression.

Nevertheless, that is where the flaws inherent in this novel vanish. A Spark Unseen has a fascinating plot, filled with mysterious disappearances, unforseen deaths, and novel innovations. One of my favorite aspects of this novel, aside from the political intrigue, was the fact that Katharine truly had to come into her own. Even with Lane gone, she had the help of Mrs. Jeffries and trusted employers to help her cope, but in Paris, she is truly alone. When stripped of all those she holds on to for support, Katharine discovers that she is more than capable of rising to her burdens herself. Cameron, once again, proves to be an adept writer, weaving together Katharine's emotional troubles with little clues that slowly tie together the mystery at hand.

Unfortunately, Lane Moreau - our resident swoon factor - is absent for much of this novel, but his presence is still strongly felt. Once Lane does, however, make an appearance, the pace of the plot quickens considerably, resulting in detailed - but tense - action sequences. Old enemies return, new ones show their faces, and unexpected help is given too. Add to this a scene of politics, complete with sneaky housekeepers and stalkers under lampposts, and you've got yourself another scintillating tale. Another strong point to this novel, though, is the romance. Although it is very much understated and pushed under the rug in favor of the plot and character development, I enjoyed the realistic direction it took and especially the fact that Katharine never backed away from conversation - or confrontation, really - when needed. It's always annoying to have secrets fester, so the manner in which Cameron dealt with this plot line, while simultaneously empowering Katharine to seek the answers she wanted, was - hands-down - my favorite part of the entire series.

A Spark Unseen is a brilliant conclusion to this duology. Both A Dark Unwinding and this novel can be read as stand-alones - what a relief the lack of a cliffhanger is! - but they both also leave room for just a little bit more. I don't believe there are plans of a sequel to this novel, but if there are, I would welcome it gladly. It's so hard to say goodbye to characters who have grown dear to your heart, or relationships that have only blossomed and taken hold, so I am - against all odds - hoping for just another glimpse into this world. Either way, I cannot wait to see what Cameron comes up with next. If this duology is anything to go by, then it's bound to be fantastic.

15 comments:

  1. Girl I was blown away by your review for this first book but now you've cemented this. I must read this series. I love the sound of the world and I cannot wait to dive in. I'm so glad you enjoyed this sequel. Amazing review as always girl :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't wait to read this book. It sounds amazing. Great review! Another great read is the book, " No One Can Know" by author Adrienne LaCava. It is thought provoking and educational storytelling. http://adriennelacava.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm bummed Lane is absent from this book for a while, I know I'll be tempted to flip and start reading when he enters the picture again (even though I don't know him and haven't read the first book, I just know I'll want the love interest to come back into play as quickly as possible!). So glad that despite a few flaws you still really enjoyed this one overall Keertana. And a huge YAY for no cliffhangers:) *happy dance*

    ReplyDelete
  4. I actually have the first book, but I gave up on it after about 10% because it just didn't grab me at the time. Clearly I'm an idiot. The characters sound fascinating, and I love that there's a two year period between books. I hate it when entire series happen over two or three months.
    I'll definitely give this another chance. Thanks for another gorgeous review.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so glad you're giving this one another chance, Maja - yay! And, I never thought about it, but YOU'RE RIGHT! I've found that so many series take place over the course of just a few weeks or months, which really doesn't do much for me or the characters. Hmm...interesting observation. I definitely think the two year time difference with this book strengthene it. Anyway, I can't wait to see what you think of this series upon second-thought! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love reading on my iPhone, too :-). Awesome review of Cameron's book! I like the political intrigue aspect of it. I'll have to check this out. Thanks also to Robyn for the good recommend!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I haven't read the first book yet, but it's on my shelf, and I feel like it's probably time to pick it up. Both your reviews have certainly been convincing! Absolutely wonderful review, as usual, Keertana :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great review. Thanks for reminding me I need to start this series :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Like Maja, I started The Dark Unwinding and put it aside, and now I'm kicking myself! I love that Katherine seems like a strong heroine in her own right, independent of romantic relationships or helpful friends. But it's also lovely to hear that the romance is a strong point, and that it is realistic. You've convinced me that I need to dig this one out of my overflowing book case and give it another go. Lovely review!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I so hope you return to this soon, Lauren! I know I struggled with the beginning of A Dark Unwinding a bit, but the overall payoff is so worth it!(:

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are welcome Molly...It's a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I read books on my iPhone all the time, Keertana! Sometimes I have wait time at work and I make use of that! Glad to see you enjoyed this duology so much. It's nice that you waited to read book one for a bit and then you could read this right after. I love it when I do that! Wonderful review! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just found the first one in this series and looks good. thanks for the review

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm loving the trend towards duets! I also love that you read this on your iphone. I've pretty much stopped reading on my actual kindle, and anything that is an ebook I read on my phone. Mostly because I always have it and it's one less item that I need to carry around. My interest definitely peaked when you talk about historical accuracy, the way the plot grabbed you from the beginning, as well as a romance that has stood out to you. Sometimes the subtle ones are my favorite as well! Also setting this book 2 years after the previous is a great idea. I will certainly be putting these on my TBR!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You could be eligible to get a Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.