Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6

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I received this book for free from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron
Series: The Dark Unwinding #2
Published by Scholastic on September 24th 2013
Genres: Gothic, Historical, YA
Source: Scholastic
Buy on Amazon

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.

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!


This post is a part of A Spark Unseen blog tour:
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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12 Responses to “Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6”

  1. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    My review for this posts tomorrow. I did like this one. I think I liked it about the same. The political stuff didn’t really bother me, though normally it would. Maybe because I was a little more familiar with the actual history of this time where normally when I read a historical I’m not. Either way, I found this to be enjoyable and I loved Katharine’s character even more! Awesome review chick!!

  2. Savannah

    I adore historical books. I think this book is right up my alley. I don’t think the political aspect will bother me that much. My father is heavily into that stuff so I grown to ignore it all. LOL. Anyways, this story is one I like to read.

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    It’s a shame that the second book wasn’t as good as the first one. I’m with you on politics in books. I’m not a huge fan of it if it’s overdone and there seems to be a lot in this one.
    Despite everything, the author seems like she has a beautiful writing, so I’ll be sure to check out this series.
    Lovely honest review, Giselle!

  4. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    I had the chance to read the first book last year when I received an e-galley, but then it expired before I could get to it, so I was pretty disappointed over that. Now I’m not so sure, because I like my books to have great sequels, and series with only okay sequels are kind of a waste to me (it’s a horrible mindset, I know, but I just can’t help it!). But I can see why this didn’t work out much for you. I’m not big on politics either, so any talk about it tends to make me snooze off more effectively than counting sheep. I do love the sound of the characters though. Great review, hon!

  5. Vivian

    Hmmm, I don’t read much historical fiction, mostly bc they’re too long and I get bored easily, lol, but I do love this cover and the story sounds interesting. The characters sounds good, but like you, I’m not much for politics and the like. Idk about this one. Great review tho!

  6. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    A big reason why I’m so wary towards historical fictions is because a lot of the times they’ll incorporate all of that political talk that you mentioned. I can totally see why your attention would be wandering from time to time, but I’m glad that you thought the characters were well-developed. I’ve heard a lot of things about Mr. Tully, too, him being a really popular character, so I may have to start this series just to get a glimpse at all of these dynamic characters 🙂

    Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  7. Lyra

    Ahhh, I get what you mean. I shy away from any historical novel simply because the politics/government aspect bore me. It gets even worse when there’s infodump! I’m happy that you enjoyed the author’s style of writing when it comes to the setting though – there’s nothing more amazing than an author bringing to life a place from its pages with mere words, after all.

    Great review as always, Giselle! 🙂

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

  8. Pili

    I love historical fiction, even if I haven’t been reading much of it as of late, so this series sounds like something that I’d like, even if like you, I’m not the biggest fan of politically driven plots!