Last night I finished reading Boneshaker, Book 1 in Cherie Priest’s series “The Clockwork Century.” I’ll admit I’m a little slow in jumping on the steampunk bandwagon so to make up for lost time, I thought it might be good to put the crème de la crème near the top of my reading list. When Tor Books offered ebook versions of three of its best steampunk novels on sale for $2.99, I could resist no longer. (The other two top-selling ebooks offered for $2.99 were The Affinity Bridge by George Mann and Mainspring by Jay Lake.)
So I bought Boneshaker, I read it, and I’m here to say that this book is definitely worthy of the accolades it has received, including the 2010 Locus Award in the Best Science Fiction Novel category and a nomination for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel. While the book wasn’t the fastest paced book I’ve ever read, Ms. Priest combined plenty of plot elements and twists with imaginative and tight writing to create a book that I wasn’t willing to put down until I was finished.
Here’s the gist of the book. Boneshaker is set in Civil War era Seattle, a jumping off place for prospectors eager to make their fortunes in the frozen Klondike gold fields to the north. Enter Leviticus Blue, an inventor commissioned by Russians to build a machine capable of mining through solid ice — and the Boneshaker device was born. Unfortunately, on the machine’s test run, things go terribly wrong, resulting in the destruction of downtown Seattle and the release of a noxious gas that turns anyone who breathes it into a “rotter,” a stumbling, slavering undead being.
Speeding forward sixteen years, Briar Wilkes (Blue’s widow) and her son, Ezekiel, struggle to eek out a living outside the wall built to enclose the toxic part of the city. But Ezekiel, intent on clearing his father’s tarnished name and reputation, ventures into the old city, only to battle zombies, air pirates, criminal overlords and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can save him.
For my more conservative readers, know that there is some mild swearing, but if that doesn’t deter you and you want to check out a book sure to become an American steampunk classic, I suggest you give Boneshaker a try.
To visit the author’s web site, click here: