Search This Blog

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker is the second book I've read by Priest.  The first was Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which I  read and reviewed not long ago.  Although I saw a lot of potential in Four and Twenty, it wasn't really a series I was intent on pursuing.

Boneshaker has some of the same qualities, and is, in my opinion, a far better book.  Of course, Four and Twenty was Priest's debut novel, and she has put several books under her belt since it was published.

The characters are interesting, the writing (especially at the beginning) is quite good,  the setting is exceptionally and appropriately dark and gritty, and there is plenty of action.

 Briar Wilkes, widow of Leviticus Blue and daughter of Maynard Wilkes, takes her maiden name after her inventor husband builds a drilling machine, the Boneshaker, that apparently runs amuck and destroys a portion of Seattle, killing a great many people outright.  Those who don't die in the initial catastrophe are threatened by a deadly, malevolent gas called the Blight, and the majority of the citizens are forced to rehabitate on the outskirts of the city after building a huge wall to protect themselves from the carnage, the effects of the Blight, and the "rotters" who have succumbed to the deadly gas.

Briar and Zeke, her son, born after the chaos, are outcasts living a hand-to-mouth existence fifteen years later.  Zeke, however, has become determined to prove his father's innocence and disappears into the "city" to find evidence.  The filters on his mask (the Blight gas, remember?) have a limited time span.  When Briar realizes what he has done, she goes in after him.

An interesting novel, with flaws, but one that I did  enjoy.  Set during the Civil War and full of alternate history, the novel allows you to visit a strange, but familiar world of the past.  Some concepts didn't hold together and the conclusion felt incomplete somehow.  Not the part at the very end where Priest leaves the possibility of a return to world she's created, but the denouement, the final battle portion, which seemed rushed and not quite satisfactory.  Can't explain without spoilers.

Other reviews: 
Thumbs upStainless Steel Droppings (Carl),   Shades of Grey, Fantasy Book Critic
Neither up nor down Spiral Galaxy, Song of Ice and Fire
Thumbs down: Dminoz, Bright Dreamer

Fiction.  Steampunk/Urban Fantasy/Alternate History.  2009.  416 pages.


  1. I liked this book. I really must read the next book because I think it is out or will be soon!

  2. I enjoyed this book when I read it last year and have enjoyed the first third of the sequel Dreadnought, thus far. Dreadnought is different not just in that it follows a different main character but also because she is traveling across the country and is not bound to the smaller more claustrophobic setting of the walled-in Seattle. There is a novella, Clementine, that is also out that I would like to track down.

  3. Kailiana - Your review encouraged me to read the book. Thanks!

    Carl - I've read that Dreadnought is even better, and I'm looking forward to it.

  4. I need to get back to it and get a review up! :)