A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
History buffs will get a detailed, scandalous, and somewhat-fact-based account of the era of Napoleon III in Paris and the political forces involved. Author Sharon Cameron has written that it's often an intriguing bit of historic lore that gets her started on a story, and many readers may be bitten by the same bug.
Bravery, loyalty, steadfast love, resourcefulness, and perseverance often come into play.
Positive Role Models
Katharine is unswervingly devoted to her probably autistic Uncle Tully and goes to great lengths to keep him safe. Though wealthy herself, she has little patience with the snobbery and class prejudices of her time. Several of the supporting characters show strong loyalty, devotion, and courage.
Violence & Scariness
One character is under constant threat of kidnapping for most of the story. Good and evil characters meet violent deaths (a throat is cut, someone's head is fatally bashed in), and others suffer injuries dealing with assaults and disasters. Many descriptions of dead bodies and bones in the catacombs of Paris. Murderous representatives of various governments will stop at nothing to get their way.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's plenty of romantic longing as well as flirtation with charming but questionable Frenchmen. The reader witnesses nothing racier than much intense kissing, but Napoleon III's pre-imperial penchant for fathering illegitimate children is important to the story. In one incident, female characters caring for an incapacitated male character have to bathe him.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters sometimes drink alcohol. A character is drugged to keep him quiet.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Spark Unseen, the sequel to Sharon Cameron's romantic steampunk thriller The Dark Unwinding, is an exciting page-turner, finding many of the same intriguing characters in ongoing period adventures. Violence abounds: Two people are killed in a foiled kidnapping attempt before the first chapter ends, and a beloved character or two add to the body count as the story continues. Good and evil characters meet violent deaths (a throat is cut, someone's head is fatally bashed in), and others suffer injuries dealing with assaults and disasters. Many descriptions of dead bodies and bones in the catacombs of Paris. One character is frequently drugged to keep him quiet; another is poisoning his stepmother. An amorous emperor's illegitimate children come back to haunt him.
Is It Any Good?
A SPARK UNSEEN forsakes most of the spooky steampunk of The Dark Unwinding for historical intrigue at the mid-19th-century French court. Often terrified and conflicted, Katharine is an appealing heroine, facing romantic uncertainty, mortal danger, and the silly customs of high society with courage. There may well be a few happy coincidences -- even too many convenient meetings and out-of-left-field revelations for some readers -- but the fast-moving, roller-coaster plot keeps the pages turning from one thrilling adventure and dire peril to the next.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.