Boneshaker - Cherie Priest

Boneshaker is the first in a series the author has called 'The Clockwork Century', which as I understand it are more books set in a shared universe than an actual series. I first picked up a copy of this book back in 2011 and, for some reason I can't recall, never got around to reading anything else from this author.


The books are set in the mid-19th century United States, where the Civil War continues far longer than it actually did in our reality, with great technological developments happening alongside it. In terms of Boneshaker, the setting is the city of Seattle, which had benefitted much earlier from the Gold Rush and which had then become a victim of that new technology - the eponymous Boneshaker being an enormous drilling machine which had been meant for drilling through ice in Alaska but used instead to rob Seattle's many banks. In the aftermath of this, a toxic gas had been released, causing those inhabitants of the city who were unable to escape to become zombies and the eventual building of a wall to keep them contained.


Our protagonists are mother and son, Briar and Zeke Wilkes - Briar is the wife of the man responsible for building the Boneshaker and lives with the repercussions from that relationship. When Zeke decides to find a way into the walled city of Seattle, wanting to know more about the truth around both his father and grandfather (the latter being revered by the locals as a result of one selfless act), Briar is determined to rescue him and follows him into danger.


I suppose because this isn't a YA novel, we are blessedly free from romantic interludes (let alone the usual love triangle nonsense!) and are instead forced to satisfy ourselves with a well-drawn setting and strong characterisation. I know, it's a terrible hardship, reading a book where female characters don't need rescuing or lose all their sense on meeting The One.


I'm determined to read all the books in this series this time around and the library called yesterday to say that the copy of Dreadnought I requested is ready for collection, so I expect you'll see a review for that here soon!