If you're looking for a clean, gothic tome of suspense, somewhat reminiscent of Jane Austen or the Brontes, this may be the book for you.Characters:
Katharine Tulman is a sensible, frugal young woman; knowing her financial security and future rest upon the tenuous good will of her greedy aunt and cousin, she has set out to declare her uncle insane and incapable of handling his wealth at their behest. I do not have any major problems with Katharine, save one (see Plot). She is curious without being reckless, assured without being a snobbish know-it-all, and generally levelheaded. The supporting cast is interesting in a sometimes slightly off kilter manner that adds to the overall strangeness of the setting and circumstances. As we are constantly reminded in word and action, this is not London; and it's more fun for it.Romance:
The intended man for Katherine is painfully obvious at his introduction, but the romance develops somewhat slowly (though it's only a one month acquaintance) and is not horrendously in your face. Throughout, Katherine remains sensible of her position, his, and the unchanged bleak future awaiting her. That, and no love triangle, made it sufferable.Plot:
Katherine is sent to Stranwyne to declare her uncle insane, making her aunt and cousin very rich in the process. She meets adversity from the staff and residents, finally agreeing to stay one month's time before returning to London and telling her aunt anything. The plot progresses smoothly at a decent pace. My one great unhappiness with the story is this: when Katharine starts experiencing the hallucinations/sleep walking, she never once considers nor suspects the possibility of some outside source. I understand she's worried about the genetics of lunacy, but really, for a girl who's so analytical and logical the other 95% of the book, to see her ignore the peculiar timing of her "malady's" onset, the multitude of potential saboteurs, and the common factors present prior to each bout was horribly annoying. It also lessened the scary factor for me. I already know, as she should, it's a person with poison and/or drugs, not a mental disorder, so her whining about going mad is a waste of time.Writing:
First person is not my preferred point-of-view. It worked well enough here, but there were times the confines of Katharine's head were a tad stifling. Prime example (and note of word repetition): Lane's stupid warm hands. (It's England. If you touched/held anyone else's hand for any amount of time, I bet you'd find that warm, too.) Also, the detail dump in the first chapter (on a room I never again saw) was a little off-putting. I usually like detail, but I was still getting used to the older style of speech/writing and, while I understand the need for Aunt Alice to make an impression as she is a main motivation for the protagonist's actions, it was disproportionate to that setting's role in the novel, which rendered the effect a little counterproductive for me.Conclusion:
Not much of a spoiler, but everything ends happily and very nearly too
neatly. Still, it was a passable eleventh hour save. I knew the lawyer would pull a fast one. Sneaky lawyers. ;) But then, after all the action has ended and the problems are solved, the author inserts a new conflict. In my opinion, it's pointless. I can only imagine it exists for the sake of some last drama, preventing a completely happy ending, and/or it leaves room for a sequel, though I thought this was a standalone.Final Thoughts:
Not bad. I enjoyed it for the most part and would recommend it to YA readers looking for suspense with a touch of steampunk and not too much sap.