Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1) by Cherie Priest

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.

Jan’s Review

I listened to this one via an audiobook from the library it intrigued me as it set in an alternate history for Seattle Washington which is in my home state so I am always invested in those stories. A scientist named Leviticus Blue built a machine to break beneath Alaska to reach the gold buried underneath. Instead, the Boneshaker destroys downtown Seattle and sets loose a poisonous gas called the blight.

The machine that destroyed Seattle reminds me of big bertha a real machine that Seattle was using during the Alaskan viaduct replacement project. They also refer to real life places such as Pike Place Market, Smith Tower, and real city streets around that area. Having been to these places really help make the story come more to life for me in my imagination.

The story centers around a mother and son relationship and alternates between the two chapters. This was done exceptionally well in the audiobook as there were two narrators telling the alternate chapters. The story moved along with neither point of view taking dominance over the other so the story when it comes together at the end really works out well.

Like any good dystopian kind of story you need an enemy in this one, we have The Rotters which are zombie-like creatures who been turned by the positions gas. This made the adventure inside the city exciting and dangerous. There are steampunk aspects to this story as well with airships and various inventions that were designed by Blue and commandeered by those who choose to stay inside the wall.

This is the first book in a series but I think each book is a stand-alone set in the same type of universe centered around events that involve some sort of steampunk machine. I am intrigued enough that I will be checking Dreadnought.

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