Author: Sharon Cameron
Katharine Tulman has not led a happy life. Orphaned at an early age, she is the ward of her father’s widowed sister-in-law, a money-grubbing shrew who coddles her grown son. Katharine’s uncle holds the Tulman family’s fortune in his power and is reportedly squandering money that should come into Robert’s possession. Aunt Alice will have none of that. She sends Katharine on her first trip ever to visit the family estate and determine Uncle Tulman’s mental health. Arriving at the family home, Katharine finds a house that can only be described as elegant squalor. One woman remains working in the large home, and Uncle Tulman is nowhere to be found. Maintaining as much dignity as she can, Katharine withstands the instant mistrust, cold disdain and rude reception of all the inhabitants of the estate – employees of her Uncle. One of these employees finally shows Katharine her absent uncle. The brawny and silent Lane leads her to “Mr. Tully’s” workshop. Here Katharine finds a childlike man, controlled by routine who creates delicate and exquisite clockwork figures. He is lovingly protected by the people on the estate who work in the foundries and mills he had built on the grounds of the Tulman land. Each of the inhabitants has been saved from poor houses and work houses and has been given a new life by the eccentric Mr. Tully. Katharine learns gradually that despite his shortcomings, her uncle is responsible for the well-being of many, and his savant status has endeared him to all who care for him. Caught up in the mystery of the gothic Tulman home and the intrigue of her Uncle’s brilliant creations, Katharine must choose between her dreary former life and her new existence with the common people of the Tulman estate. It is only a tragedy and betrayal that will lead her finally to her destiny and to the first love she has ever known. Cameron’s debut novel is a dark and thrilling book that is a little bit steampunk, a little bit romance and a little bit gothic. Readers who enjoy classic gothic tales such as Jane Eyre will love this book as well, with a strong heroine and unique and memorable characters. A vivid sense of place and time are captured in strong writing and clean plot. This book is a recommended read for students in grades 9-12.
Reviewer: Emily Rozmus
School/Public Library: Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools