Book Review

Book Review: Boneshaker

By Cherie Priest

Not My Edition:
Paperback, 416 pages
2009, Tor
ISBN: 9780765318411

From Amazon: In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead. Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history. His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

This book has been buried in the depths of my Amazon cart for many years. During a recent trip to the library, it caught my eye, and I’m glad I decided to finally read it! Boneshaker is a steampunk novel with a handful of American history sprinkled in for good measure. I often find that many of the steampunk novels I read are set in England or perhaps a fictional country modeled after England. It was a nice change of pace to read something set in my country.

Briar and Ezekiel are likable characters and their backstory is a rich one – one I’d actually like to know more about. I was intrigued by the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine and it was featured less in the story than I imagined. That’s really my only issue with this book – there were plenty of other steampunk creations to read about, but I wanted to know more about that drill! The war is mentioned from time to time, but if you’re looking for a version of the Civil War with more steampunk elements in it, this is not the book for you. Personally, this didn’t bother me (though I do think that’s a cool premise and if you know of any books like that, let me know!)

This book also took me longer to read than I’d guessed. I never felt bored or bogged down, but it was one of those books that I’d read for a few hours and think that I must be half done, only to find I’d made barely any progress. I don’t consider that a negative, just something to think about.

I had a lot of fun reading Boneshaker and it was very easy for me to picture the world Priest created. I’ll definitely seek out more of her work!

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