A Spark Unseen
(historical fantasy, steampunk-ish)
A while ago I read and reviewed THE DARK UNWINDING, book one in this series. (Where “read” means “listened to the audio book read quite competently by Fiona Hardingham”.) So I was excited to read (again with the audio version) the sequel. However, though I have enjoyed it, something was missing from that first book.
I think that a large part of what was missing – and this is no spoiler – is that the interaction between Katherine and Lane was one of my favorite parts. And when the book starts off with Katherine denying that Lane is dead, it’s a given that this interaction won’t be a highlight in the same way. Another highlight was playtime with Mr. Tully. And given that he’s supposed to be dead (not a spoiler, really, as this happens within the first few chapters), playtime doesn’t get seen much either.
Now, there will be some spoilers in the rest of the review after this paragraph. A few more spoiler-free bits, though: I still liked the characters in this book. Cameron does a great job of developing new characters that are as deep as the ones in the prior book, even going as far as taking minor characters from the first book and developing them further in the sequel. I did enjoy getting to know some of the book one bit players more in this book. Some of the new characters (Henri, the DuPonts) were great, too. And getting to know our heroine (plural if you include Mary, and it’s hard not to) more in SPARK as well. I do love the way Cameron writes people. And the tone of the book still feels appropriate for its time and place.
And now for the spoilers. First of all, Lane. As you probably guessed, he is NOT dead, and Katherine does find him before the end of the book. (It took longer than I’d expected, though I did figure out when he appeared before she did.) And there were some great scenes between the two of them.
And then there’s Ben, aka the villain from the first book. Also not dead. Also reappears, though in this case earlier than I expected. And with some revelations that I did not expect as to his parentage. I like the way his story plays out in this one.
So, the parts that I enjoyed the most from book 1 – the Lane/Katherine interaction and playtime – didn’t show up until near the end of the book, and then they weren’t allowed as much free-rein as before. But, when they did show up, they were great. And the story itself was good, and the audio version was wonderful. The narration fits the story perfectly.
I do like this book. It was very fun, if not quite as good as the first. I can’t tell from this if there will be a third, but if there is I will probably buy it too.