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A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2)
by Sharon Cameron

Scholastic Press, September 24, 2013


“This is not how I’d thought I would die. Had not been part of my meticulous plan when I’d pulled on my nightgown and climbed into bed. There were this month’s ledger books waiting on my desk, and the new plastering to start tomorrow in the ruined lower wing. That rent to be mended in my white stockings and the walls of Uncle Tully’s workshop, rising stone by stone from the riverbank…

My eyes flew open, widening at the sting of the knifepoint as it entered my skin. Lane would come back to Stranwyne Keep, and I would not be here to meet him.”

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When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. From the court of Napoleon III to the underground tunnels of Paris, Katharine will have to decide how a dangerous weapon might be kept from both a queen and an emperor, and whom she can trust –if anyone– to help make Uncle Tully safe once and for all.

Emperor vs. Queen
Napoleon III, Emperor of France Victoria, Queen of England
 

When Napoleon III, President of France, illegally seized power and declared himself Emperor in December of 1852, the world went on high alert. And nowhere more than in Great Britian, where the memories of Napoleon I’s devastating wars were still fresh. The British navy had been instrumental in defeating the first Napoleon, but now his nephew, Napoleon III, was building the La Gloire, a new kind of ship, completely clad in iron. Impervious to cannon. Fireproof. Invincible. The ultimate weapon.

When Napoleon III, President of France, illegally seized power and declared himself Emperor in December of 1852, the world went on high alert. And nowhere more than in Great Britian, where the memories of Napoleon I’s devastating wars were still fresh. The British navy had been instrumental in defeating the first Napoleon, but now his nephew, Napoleon III, was building the La Gloire, a new kind of ship, completely clad in iron. Impervious to cannon. Fireproof. Invincible. The ultimate weapon.


La Gloire, c.1858

Until someone invented this.

The race to world power was on.

A Spark Unseen, 1854
Real vs. Not Real

 

The Tuileries?

Real! Or it was then. It was deliberately burned to the ground in 1871, its exquisite dome destroyed by explosives. I guess we’ll never know what really blew up the Tuileries, or whether there were secret tunnels underneath its floors or not…

Dead bodies on display at the Paris Morgue?

Real! This was public entertainment, 1854 style.

 
 

The crypt beneath the Sainte-Merri Chapel?

Not real! Well, okay, actually there is a crypt, but the crypt beneath the crypt? Not that I know of.

Charenton Lunatic Asylum?

Totally real! As written.

 
 

Tunnels full of human bones?

Real! The product of overfilled Parisian graveyards. Some of them are even decoratively arranged! But most of the underground tunnels of Paris are ancient, empty stone quarries, now abandoned and dangerous. In 1879, three houses were “swallowed whole” by a collapsing tunnel. In 1961, six streets and part of a soccer stadium. In 2003, an entire school disappeared into the empty spaces underneath Paris.

Beaming electricity unseen across a room?

Not real! Or at least it wasn’t in 1854. Radio waves are how we send electricity through the air, which is how everything wireless works now. The scientists of 1854 came close, but the first successful experiment did not actually happen until 1887. They should have talked to Uncle Tully.

 
From Uncle Tully’s workshop

The Lighting Box
(transcribed from the original by Philip Cameron)

click image to enlarge