A Spark Unseen
Series: The Dark Unwinding #2
Genre: Gothic, Historical, YA
Publication date: September 24th 2013
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.
-A copy was provided by Scholastic for review-
With the same atmosphere and wonderfully charismatic characters as the first book, A Spark Unseen is a good sequel to The Dark Unwinding, but I felt somewhat bored while reading it. Even though the pacing in the first book was unhurried, I still found myself entertained by the characters in such a way that I hardly noticed. A Spark Unseen, on the other hand, while it did have the same fun personalities, much of its time is spent expanding the now thicker political layer. Not being a big fan of strong political plots – especially in historical fiction – I had difficulty staying focused during this one.
I can’t say that there is any lack in character atmosphere in this sequel. We have our good old Katharine who delights us with her take charge attitude and dependence. I really love how this girl was given such a likeable personality. She’s not perfect by any means, she makes decisions that are a little unwise at times, if a bit risky, but she’s been developed into this confident, unpretentious young woman who doesn’t let herself be dismissed, nor does she let the irritability of others stop her from being kind. Everyone ends up liking her – and for good reason! Mary is another favorite character of mine, making me glad to see her largely present again in this sequel. Same for Mr. Tully who is now experiencing with electricity and what I’m assuming is radio waves – or maybe magic? – either way it was fun to see the new trinkets he came up with. And of course these ended up being of great help in this novel. We do meet a few new faces as well and, good or bad, I found them all so lively. I especially loved the housemaid and her family. She was irritable at first but I was kept highly intrigued by her. The characters are truly the hit in the series, there is no question there, I love how every single one is a powerful face in this story with meaning and a lustrous personality. However, this sequel is slightly less character driven to give room for a more complex plot.
The first book is centered at Stranwyne, a village employed by her uncle, now we get to branch out into a larger terrain that is well worth Cameron’s beautifully descriptive writing. A Spark Unseen, filled with ruthless politicians, historical intrigue, mystery, murder, treachery, is set in beautiful Paris. This setting is superb; the city, the streets, Katharine’s house, the underground tunnels, I could see it all come alive. It was easily my favorite part of this novel.
With that said, the plot’s focus is where I became less enthused. I’m not big on politically infused books. I get bored easily with political dealings, especially in historical setting where I find myself often getting lost in the intricacies of it all or uncaring of the conspiracies between governments. Even though it wasn’t especially complicated compared to other historicals I’ve read, I still found my attention was quick to wander despite the rest.
Historical fiction fans definitely need to get themselves introduced to this series. Like its predecessor, A Spark Unseen combines incredible personalities and an excellent ambiance into a plot that is at once gothic, at once political, and largely suspenseful.
Find my review of A Dark Unwinding, here!