Monday, June 24, 2013

Where There Are Sparks, Electricity Follows

Expected Publication:  September 24th, 2013
A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding # 2)
By: Sharon Cameron
Scholastic Press
ISBN-13:  9780545328135
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.
     Katherine Tulman has recently been through quite a lot: she has gained an eccentric Uncle, foiled an attempt by opposing governments to use one of her Uncle Tully's toy designs as a weapon of war, and fallen in love with a young man who is involved in espionage.  Oh, and she has also become an independent heiress in her own right!  But the governments haven't given up quite yet and when strange men break into the estate and attempt to kidnap her Uncle Tully, Katherine is forced into drastic measures.  After faking Tully's death and fleeing to Paris to avoid England's grasping hands, Katherine finds herself dealing with another set of dangers, including figuring out what has really happened to Lane, her Uncle's former assistant and the young man she loves, who has gone missing.  Can she figure out a way to get them all safely out of Paris and uncover the plot to steal her Uncle in a way that will end things once and for all?
      I read the previous book in the series warily, for I am by no means a fan of the steampunk genre and it is marketed as falling under that title.  As with the first book, this one proves that really the only steampunk thing about this book is the mentions of Uncle Tully's unique inventions.  I enjoyed the mystery of the first book, uncovering all of the characters' individual motivations and schemes.  This book felt like it was trying very hard to capture the espionage feeling of the previous novel, but never quite made it into that sphere.  It dealt with espionage of the international sort to a much greater extent, but I felt disconnected from Katherine and her troubles as an individual.  I did admire the ingenious way that she protects her Uncle (the mode of his transport to France was absolutely inspired!) but the quest to find Lane, the boy she supposedly loves fell extremely flat.  His mysterious disappearance felt like it was only included in the novel as a way to further along the kidnapping plot of the book.  Also, their interactions once she found him felt very formal and wooden to me as a reader.  I just didn't believe they were a great romance, and honestly would have preferred if the book had focused more on the espionage side of things and developed that storyline more than just 'We're on the run from the bad guys, we're hiding out from the bad guys.  We're confronting the bad guys, we're moving on with life.'  Easy peasy sure, but kind of vanilla and on the boring side of the line.  The side characters didn't provide any relief, as they were majorly two-dimensional.  And I am NOT a fan of anything to do with spies so my stance on this even surprised me!  The 'resolution' of the novel's plot(s) leaves things somewhat open for a third book, but also hints that this was possibly the series conclusion.  If that's the case, it was a cute series but somewhat underdeveloped and with the promise it showed, that was quite disappointing.  I won't so anymore so as not to spoil, but it's recommended more for fans of 19th Century Gothic romance books than steampunk adventures.
VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars
**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is September 24th, 2013.**

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