Book ReviewA Spark Unseen

Reviewer's Rating: 
I truly enjoyed this book...and yet, it failed to rock my world because (see explanation in review).
Scholastic Press, 2013

BOOK TWO: DARK UNWINDING SERIES. 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.

This was another hit out of the park by Sharon.  When I reviewed the nominations and awards she's won from her first book, The Dark Unwinding, I smiled, very happy for her.  I knew it!  As much as I loved her first book, she does an even better job with book two.  Often second books move too far in another direction in order to make it feel fresh and though Katherine and her maid Mary leave England for Paris, the feel of the characters remains the steady same and feels like 'home' to us as readers.

Again, there is a good solid mystery to be solved and it plays out beautifully.  The writing itself is well honed and sets the perfect pace without meandering or cutting too many corners. 

One of the things I love about Sharon is the aspect of historical truth in her stories.  She is a good researcher which makes her books also a slight learning tool.  I loved that her first book was based on a historical house with an 'insanely' rich - and well, insane owner who basically hires a whole village for his needs.  In this book, the truths come from Katherine's brush with Napoleon III, his various illegitimate offspring and surprisingly enough, a mechanical fish that was invented for the purpose of penetrating iron clad ships.  In this case, fact makes great fiction yet again.

Where this book falls off my perfect rating achievement are the minor characters we meet in Paris, specifically the housekeeper Mrs Dupont- she felt more than severe or strict to the point she became a cliché 'bad' character.  And then there is Katherine's maid Mary who falls for a local French boy...with spies everywhere how could she be oblivious to the obvious?  Finally, a minor smear on our main girl Katherine.  She is beyond intelligent and capable but never notices that Mr Dupont is insane?  Her surprise when she is told this made me roll my eyes a bit.  When my eyes roll, the ratings drop.

Otherwise, this is a fun, informative adventure mystery that is a great read for any high level junior fiction and older.

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