Title: A Spark Unseen
Author: Sharon Cameron
Series: The Dark Unwinding, Book 2
Hardcover: 335 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
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.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
A Spark Unseen is the follow up to The Dark Unwinding. Katharine’s autistic Uncle Tully is still sought after by both France and Britain to provide clockwork fish that could act as bombs against new ironclad ships; both want the advantage for themselves so they can rule the navy after they’re finished fighting the Crimean War. However, Katharine wants her uncle to live in peace and doesn’t believe he’d thrive creating weapons for any government. In an effort to let him live his life, she fakes his death and travels with him to France, hoping to keep him hidden for long enough that the government will leave her and her family alone.
I will say to start off that you should definitely read the first book before this one, because a lot of the context of this one is entirely dependent on the events that happened in the first book, and while it’s summarized a bit, I think it’d be difficult to jump into this book without having that background.
So, I started with the audiobook with this one and I had to bail because of the voice the narrator did for Uncle Tully — I just couldn’t deal with it. Once I switched over to a print book, however, I was much happier. The beginning was rough going for me, but once Katharine gets to France, it gets much better and fills with fun, dangerous intrigue, which worked a lot better for me. I like the character development that Katharine goes through and how she is forced to become an adult and start managing her own affairs and making difficult choices — for that reason, I felt that this book shines a bit more than the previous one, because she becomes a much more interesting character. She and Uncle Tully are really the most complex characters in this book — side characters are given some level of development, but not anything that stood out to me. I also like that we were introduced to some new characters and got to actually met some others who were talked about in previous books.
My main complaint, actually, would be that the plot was predictable and had a lot of “convenient” things happen that didn’t really make much sense or fit with the story as a whole. As such, this story is fine and I wouldn’t recommend anyone not to read it, but it’s not anything that’s going to blow people away.
However, while the plot is predictable, this story is full of twists and turns that came from more of characters’ motivations being revealed than actual plot points, which was nice in its own way. I wasn’t super surprised by any events happening, but the characters kept surprising me, which kept it interesting. Like the first book, there are hints of some romantic stuff, and Katharine is very much driven by her need to find Lane, so it doesn’t get in the way of the plot as a whole.
Overall, this book gives enough of a resolution to the over-arching story that spanned both the previous one and this one,so that I’m not left with any particularly burning questions. There’s resolution and hope and optimism, which is how I prefer my endings.