Friday, August 27, 2010

BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest

Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: TOR
Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Alternative History 

BOOK BLURB ON BACK COVER:  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 teenage 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.

REVIEW:   Cherie Priest excels in this alternative view of history in BONESHAKER. Filled with air pirates, criminals, a deadly blight, and the rotters (i.e. zombies or living dead), this novel slowly builds up the tension until the end. Briar Wilkes is realistic in that she will do anything for her child, no matter what she has to face. She and her son learn about themselves, each other, and the past, whether they like it or not. I greatly enjoyed BONESHAKER, which was my first reading foray into the steampunk genre. Despite the pacing being slow in the beginning, once I read through the first hundred paces or so, the novel was hard to put down. Cherie Priest ended the novel with a bang, a surprised one at that. I can honestly say this is the first book where the ending completely shocked me, and that's saying something. 

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy alternative views of the Victorian Era (mid-1800s to late 1800s) and if you enjoy steampunk, science fiction, and/or zombies. Plus, Priest's first name Cherie is an added bonus for me. We Cheries have to stick together.