I'm very excited to get the opportunity to share some behind-the-scenes information about the setting for Sharon Cameron's newest book, "A Spark Unseen," the sequel to her first novel, "The Dark Unwinding." For those of you who haven't heard about the sequel, here's a little teaser to whet your appetite:
"A Spark Unseen," 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 whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.
I got a sneak peek at the novel through an advanced reader's copy and spent every evening wishing that I had more than just 30 minutes or so to read before bed because I very much wanted to find out how Katharine was going to protect her uncle. It took me way longer to finish that I wanted (that comes with having a 5-month-old baby sucking up all my free time), but loved it. I was particularly in love with the unique and true to life settings, such as the Paris Morgue. So, I am excited to be able to give some background on this creepy place that really did exist in France in the 1800s.
“The morgue is a sight within reach of everybody, and one to which passers-by, rich and poor alike, treat themselves… If the slabs have nothing on them, visitors leave the building disappointed, feeling as if they have been cheated, and murmuring between their teeth; but when they are fairly well occupied, people crowd in front of them and…they express horror, they joke, they applaud or whistle, as at the theatre, and withdraw satisfied, declaring the Morgue a success on that particular day."
-Harper’s Weekly Magazine, 1874
The Paris Morgue was an infamous place during the mid-1800s, visited by tourists, passing dignitaries, and even Charles Dickens, who wrote an amazingly detailed description of what he saw there. In some ways The Morgue was a modern innovation, helping the new police forces identify the missing and solve murders. It was also a ghastly form of entertainment, a public spectacle feeding the frenzy for tales of horror and gore. The dignity of the dead was not really a consideration.
Engraving of the Morgue, c. 1860
When an unidentified body was received at The Morgue it was brought to a special, tiled room, undressed, washed with hoses, then brought to the viewing room, a room with one wall made of glass. The clothing was displayed on ropes above, the bodies put on a tilted slab, one small screen placed before their “nether regions.” Then any person of any age could stroll into the Morgue and view the catch of the day.
An especially gruesome murder could cause a near riot to get to the viewing glass, something that Katharine Tulman, most unfortunately, discovers for herself in "A Spark Unseen."
Only known surviving photograph of The Paris Morgue, c. 1880.
Note the clothes on mannequins, rather than on ropes as they were in the earlier engraving.
That's some seriously morbid entertainment they had back in the 1800s. Can you imagine if morgues did this today?
To see how this creepy place fits into Katharine's flight to Paris and her quest to keep her genius uncle from being forced into making deadly weapons, make sure "A Spark Unseen" gets put on your list of books to pick up when it's released Sept. 24!
For more information about Sharon Cameron and her books,
visit sharoncameronbooks.com or follow her on Twitter at
@CameronSharonE or on Facebook.