I read and loved The Dark Unwinding (me review), the first in this series, soon after it released. I was swept away in Katharine’s story because of the lavish descriptions, unique characters and beautiful historical setting. I am honored to be part of this blog tour celebrating the next book, A Spark Unseen (my review). Thank you Sharon for your insightful and horrifying information on Lunatic Asylums in the 19th century.
Location Scouting, Charenton Lunatic Asylum
In A Spark Unseen, Katharine is horrified by what she sees in the Charenton Lunatic Asylum. As anyone would have been. The curing of the insane in the 19th century looked more like torture than treatment, and was just as successful as the curing of diseases before we understood the concept of germs. In other words, not really successful at all! Look at this partial list of the number of admissions to Charenton in 1841, and what was considered the cause of these patients’ “lunacy”:
Libertinage, excesses of all kinds
Suppression of habitual evacuations (constipation!)
Reverse of fortune
Excess of study
Reading of romances
Chains and cold water shocks were certainly not going to “cure” anyone of these “mental illnesses!”
But in spite of all it got wrong, Charenton was actually a very progressive asylum for its time, allowing its quieter inmates menial tasks, fresh air, and the opportunity to socialize. One of its more famous patients, the Marquis de Sade (the man from whom we get the modern term “sadist”) was allowed his own rooms, the ability to publish his writings, and even visits from his wife and female servants. Some of these privileges may have been kinder than was wise!
But whether kindness or cruelty was intended, it doesn’t take away the scariest fact about 19th century asylums: Once you went in, it was very difficult to find a way back out again.
Summary (via Goodreads):
The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron’s blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.
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. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.
Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.
A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron releases September 24th 2013 by Scholastic Press
Enter to win a finished copy of A Spark Unseen
Find out more about the hop and giveaways here.
Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour