Katharine Tulman has been put in charge by her aunt to put her “lunatic” uncle in an asylum, securing her cousin’s inheritance. But when she arrives at the estate, nothing is as she expected, and she realizes this may not be as quick or simple a task as she originally planned it to be. The estate looks more like a village, inhabited with hundreds of families working under “Mr. Tully” and functions around his many rules and schedules. Playtime and teatime must start at precisely the right time each day, every clock must be wound on the same day each week, and any spinning or turning must be done clockwise. If done incorrectly, Mr. Tully becomes upset and goes into a child-like tantrum difficult to fix. But beyond this exterior is the mind of a genius, materialized by the many contraptions and toys in his workshop that seem to function impossibly. After seeing its many oddities, Katharine starts to see a sense of balance on the estate and begins to doubt her original purpose. Can she really destroy this place as she initially intended to?
Review: *CONTAINS A FEW SPOILERS* Click read more to continue reading.
This novel is one of those rare works that caught me by surprise. I honestly never expected to become as attached to it as I have, laughing and crying and gasping throughout the pages. Katherine, who started out very closed off and almost bland (due to nasty Aunt Alice's presence) in the beginning, became a very relatable character after losing her cold facade. She gained my sympathy for being put in the tough situation she was in and having to deal with all of her subsequent conflicting emotions. With the book being told from her perspective, I also couldn't help but see the other characters as she saw them, and found myself warming up to the whole family. Uncle Tully became a favorite, his childlike innocence awe-inspiring. And Lane, oh Lane.... With Katherine's developing feelings for him, it's hard not to become charmed by him or compare him to all the other sexy mysterious love interests in YA bestsellers. However, at times his closed off personality and moodiness frustrated me. There's no guarantee he's changed for the better after supposedly hunting down a man abroad, but hopefully we can see some more of him in the sequel, if he comes back that is. The romance was slight, but it was also very sweet, which I believe is appropriate for the timeframe and setting of the novel being 19th century England. However, the ending made me feel a bit unsatisfied, probably due to the openness of it and the depressing idea that our female protagonist might not get her prince in the end. Now don't even get me started on Davy. That boy was unmistakably adorable! So of course, after reading about his death and getting over my denial, I just felt that much more compassion towards the characters it affected most (once again, very attached). On a positive note, this book was overall wonderful to read. It had suspense, mystery, romance, and will get you right in the feels, leading you from one chapter to the next. Sharon Cameron just got herself another fan. Can’t wait for the sequel!
Reviewed by Aneta of the Anonymous Writers Group.