Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
In 1860, the Russian government commissions a machine from Seattle inventor Leviticus Blue. At fifty feet long, the Boneshaker is a beast of a drill that will be used to bore through the icy Alaskan tundra in search of gold. But something goes horribly wrong during the Boneshaker’s test run and it veers wildly out of control, drilling through the streets of Seattle, toppling buildings, and leaving many dead. Worst of all, the Boneshaker also unearths the Blight, a subterranean gas that turns the living into the walking dead. A wall is built to contain both the Blight and the ravenous undead that now roam the streets. Shunned by the community for her husband’s part in the disaster, Briar Wilkes is forced to raise her son alone.
Now, sixteen years later, Ezekiel Wilkes is determined to prove his father’s innocence and clear his family’s name once and for all. Armed with a gas mask and an antique gun, Ezekiel sneaks into the walled city to find the proof that he needs. There he finds that not just the undead, but gangs of criminals and armed refugees roam the streets of the deserted city. Concerned for her son’s safety, Briar follows Ezekiel into the heart of Seattle, determined to bring him back to safety.
Cherie Priest presents a premise that generates high expectations and she does not disappoint. Boneshaker is executed with the amount of precision, care, and research it deserves. Although Priest admits that she took some liberties with history (accelerating the Klondike gold rush, ignoring the 1889 fire, etc.), the finished product is so strong that it is easy to suspend disbelief and forgive the occasional anachronism. Boneshaker is overall a strong and enjoyable read, as well as a good introduction to the steampunk genre.
If you enjoy Boneshaker, you might also enjoy Cherie Priest’s newest book, Clementine, which is set in the same universe as Boneshaker.
Pros: A fun adventure that lives up to all its potential.
Review by Martha