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The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire #1)

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,046 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
In a clockwork Britannia, Alice's prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale—towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilo ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 382 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Roc
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Cecilia Rodriguez The intended audience seems to be Young Adult. It has one or two mild curse words. No nudity or sex.
Soulless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldBoneshaker by Cherie PriestPerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Best Steampunk Books
114th out of 835 books — 3,887 voters
Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. ExleyEtiquette & Espionage by Gail CarrigerSoulless by Gail CarrigerHeartless by Gail CarrigerChangeless by Gail Carriger
Steam Punk Novels and Short Storys
13th out of 142 books — 66 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 26, 2012 Jabberwocky rated it it was ok
From the cover and what I skimmed of the description, I was expecting a trashy steampunk romance novel, where the dashing but stranded airman sweeps the poor but brilliant society lady off her feet and they have adventures.

In retrospect, I kind of wish it HAD been that trashy. It would have been more interesting.

I feel like this book really wanted to be a clever adventure in the vein of "Soulless" and the other books in the Parasol Protectorate, but it never quite got there. For one, although "T
Sep 28, 2012 Torzilla marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: reviewed
Every now and then I stumble upon a book with a concept that makes me prematurely fall in love with it... and every now and then, something about said book makes me fall out-of-love with it. I want to enjoy the novel--because who actually enjoys rating someone's pride and joy poorly?--but I simply cannot.

In THE DOOMSDAY VAULT (TDV), the voice was what ultimately made me give up. While it has an interesting concept, and while I enjoy both steampunk and zombies, I could not become immersed within
Aug 11, 2013 Echo rated it really liked it
Confession 1: I might have picked this book up because I liked the dress the girl wore on the cover (even if, historically speaking, it is a monstrosity).
Confession 2: I might also have bought it because there was a mention of someone named Gavin on the back, and I love the name Gavin.
Confession 3: I did not buy it because of the zombies. More like in spite of the zombies. Zombies bore me. There. I said it.

That's not a crime, right? In any case, I actually did like it. (And I might have crushed
Sep 08, 2012 edifanob rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books, 2012-reads
It is the first book in a series and it is definitely steampunk.

A lot of gadgets, interesting twists and turns.

There are two reasons why I did not give five stars:

- From my point of view some of the solutions have been a way too easy
- Alice Michaels, one of the main characters, has been a pain in my neck too often.

Anyway I own a copy of The Impossible Cube which is the secon book in the series and I will definitely read it.
Simcha Lazarus
Dec 01, 2011 Simcha Lazarus rated it really liked it
All across the world, zombies roam the streets at night, infecting those they touch with the Clockwork Plague. Most of the infected die horrible, drawn-out, deaths, but some people are affected differently and instead of destroying their brains the plague enhances them. These people are called Clockworkers and they are responsible for creating the greatest inventions of the time. Unfortunately the disease eventually causes them to go mad.

In Victorian England, Alice Michaels lives with the horrib
Steve Walker
Sep 08, 2012 Steve Walker rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I am not generally a fan of alternative history or zombies, but this story has both and I enjoyed it. Set in the late 1800s it is a mishmash of 19th century and more modern technology as the backdrop for Steven Harper's enjoyable tale of a young American "sailor" who finds himself abandon in London after his "ship" was taken by pirates. Some of his shipmates were killed, while others were ransomed to the shipping company. Being just a cabin boy, he does ...more
Jeff Raymond
My limited experience with steampunk has been of the more gritty variety. Most of the steampunk I've read has been more the Cherie Priest variety, where the setting is more dark and things are Very Wrong and not so much fun. Thus, when I read a book like All Men of Genius or this, it feels different and fresh for me.

This was a fun one. On one hand, you have Alice, she of high society in London and great with a wrench. On the other, Gavin, a cabin boy flying over to Europe in a dirigible from Bos
Mar 25, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Reviewed for Vampire Book Club.

There are a couple of things you need to know right off the bat: I'm a big fan of steampunk and I can't resist a good cover. I guess I'm trying to say that this book was practically custom made for my palate. And that was before I even opened it. Then it had to go and be all super awesome what with the plague zombies and the clockwork bits and the fighting. Oh, and the vaguely frowned upon romance between an upper crust lady and a lowly airman who's *gasp* younger
Apr 22, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk
I hope this wonderful book becomes widely known in the steampunk community. It has all the elements we love in the genre--airships, gadgetry, mad geniuses, automatons--plus an unexpected and delightful aspect revolving around the power and possibilities of music. Moreover, not only the protagonists but the secondary characters as well are beautifully drawn--human, believable, and complex. Particularly notable is the assortment of strong and interesting female characters, who play a variety of ro ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-books, steampunk
The book almost lost me a few chapters in. I think it was due to the fact that I initially wasn't buying the main character's situation. Someone with a mind which worked like that should be able to shake off the social conventions or at least work around them especially with the examples provided elsewhere in the postulated society. I think I would have believed the set up more if there had been some sort of legal/outside impediment to breaking the social mold rather than just a cartload of psyc ...more
Jan 15, 2015 Kathryn rated it liked it
I really loved the premise of this novel. I loved the idea of the clockwork plague, loved both Gavin and Alice, loved the evolution of the characters through the story.

But I disliked a lot more than I loved. I take exception to the word 'zombie' being tossed around in any alternative history novel that doesn't have clear ties to the word's history. The storytelling was confused, there seemed to be a sudden shift at the end where either the author realized he wanted to take this (or the next) bo
Feb 19, 2013 Tasula rated it really liked it
A steampunk romance; a 22 yr old spinster whose family was killed/crippled by clockwork plague, (a plague that either kills you or turns you into a superbrilliant inventor) tries to reenter society, becomes engaged to Norbert Williamson, who runs an automaton bordello secretly; then meets a handsome young airman who escaped pirates and falls in love. Her aunt Edwina, a clockworker, engineered their meeting and coerces them to free her from prison and spread the CURE for the clockwork plague; lig ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of steampunk, suspense, plot twists, romance, and a slight historical romance feel, I'd recommend giving this book a shot. Also, did I mention zombies? This book has many elements that oddly works well together with this particular story and writing style. I really enjoyed this book as a fan of all the subgenres I listed. Very much looking forward to the sequel. You can read my full review on my blog Nov. 1, the release date.
Kari Chapman
Feb 06, 2016 Kari Chapman rated it liked it
This book started off a bit slow for me. It took me a bit to really get into either Alice or Gavin's story. Gavin wound up being a bit more likeable and easier to be interested in. Alice's story started off a little too similarly to too many other heroine's - a poor, brilliant girl is confined by her gender and station in life and must resign herself to being married off for the good of the family. I honestly found her annoying through most of the book. A little wishy-washiness is acceptable, bu ...more
Sep 19, 2012 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
I really enjoyed this one. The characters were interesting and the story was lots of fun. There were a few odd bits I could have done without, the plot was a twisty thing that never stopped winding and the main character surprised and saddened me at the same time.

Overall, a fun, invention-mad, genius' fever dream of an adventure.
May 01, 2014 Laksamee rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Interesting steampunk world created from a plague which either creates zombies or mad scientists. Enjoyed the action, however the storyline has a very Lemony Snicket feel in that the protagonists are always held back by a series of unfortunate events. I didn't enjoy that at all, and really hoped the heroine would move out of her lady like role. While she did, many of her 'proper' behaviors remained and felt more like an annoyance. Also, the love story turns out to be very sappy and doe-eyed. I w ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Trace rated it it was ok
I found it difficult to get into this book. The ideas of science in the 1900's version on this book, was interesting. But the characters weren't very well developed for me, and hence I found the story had less impact.
started out okay but got progressively sillier. The romance angle lacked any heat or chemistry so that didn't help.
Nov 19, 2014 Brandon rated it liked it
I love the world and most of the characters. But I had to take stars off for one of the protagonists, Alice whom I can't stand. Through the entire book she keeps making bad decisions. She never learns from her mistakes, and is just generally annoying. The forced romance also makes me rate the book lower, as she goes from afraid to be in a room alone with a man to embracing him and noticing his hardness within the space of days. If she continues to annoy me, this series will not be nearly as enjo ...more
Alison (Lady Coffin) S
As a fan of steampunk, other alternative history, as well as urban fantasy books this was fun to read.

I just adored all the airships, dirigibles, etc... that Steampunk often brings, as well as the other fun clockwork gadgets and steam powered stuff.
Also, as a reformed tom-boy, anything that has a strong female lead, doing something that isn't "typically" a female job or hobby goes over well. The main character Alice Michaels, daughter of a Barron not less, has an affinity for clockwork gadgets a
To be perfectly frank it took me a long time to get through this book. The concept had me highly motivated to read it as soon as it arrived in my hands, but the beginning slowly ate away at that excitement till I put it down after about four chapters and moved onto a new book. The writing is okay--I haven't read Harper before, but I have read quite a bit of steampunk over the last few years. Harper definitely combines the two worlds in a believable way, but spends so much time trying to immerse ...more
Oct 18, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it
The Doomsday Vault is the first book in the Clockwork Empire series by Steven Harper and a ROC Fantasy.

Book Blurb:

In a Britannia of clockwork automatons and airships, Alice Michaels’s prospects are looking grim.

The Honorable Alice B. Michaels is in a life-or-death struggle for survival - socially speaking, that is. At age twenty-one, her unladylike interest in automation, and the unfortunate deaths of most of her family from the clockwork plague, have sealed her fate as a less than desirable mar
Stephanie  G
Nov 11, 2011 Stephanie G rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Alice is the daughter of an impoverished Baron. Almost all of her other relatives have died from the clock work plague, all but her father, and her mysterious aunt Edwina. Her aunt sends her clockwork inventions to put together every year for her birthday. One day she attends a ball, hoping to make a name for her family in society, and maybe even meet a man. She happens meet someone, but on her way home she is overran by plague zombies, only to be rescued by the mysterious group of peop
Is it just me or is the steampunk genre becoming more popular these days? I’m not very familiar with the genre since I’ve only read a few books, but I think I’m becoming a true fan. So far, I’ve enjoyed all of the steampunk novels that I’ve read, and The Doomsday Vault is no exception.

Obviously set in a Victorian London, this novel takes us on an adventure through balls, pirate attacks, zombie attacks and crazy clockworker meltdowns. When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going
Dark Faerie Tales
Mar 04, 2012 Dark Faerie Tales rated it really liked it
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: An action packed and imaginative take on zombies and the creation of a steampunk world.

Opening Sentence: The zombie lurched out of the yellow fog and reached for the door on Alice’s hansom cab.

The Review:

Alice B. Michaels was born into nobility. As the daughter of a Baron, she is expected to act like a proper lady. The Clockwork Plague has devastated her family and now they are in deep debt. Alice uses one last opportunity to seek a suitor,
Sep 21, 2012 CD rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
High school only, not for middle school.

Author Steven Harper has done a bang-up job creating a very interesting steampunk world with a clockworker virus being the cause of the Victorian technological accomplishments. It is a fascinating conceit. The only quibble I have is that for the first 1/3 of the book it really feels like it is two separate stories. It is hard to see the link up and the change between them is distinct. When they finally come together it is great!

What I especially liked abou
Joseph Teller
Dec 08, 2012 Joseph Teller rated it really liked it
The world of the Clockwork Empire series is a steampunk one (though often more clockpunk at times) where a plague has been slowly altering history, making social and technological changes in a Victorian society.

Automatons are used in many cases to replace animals or humans in certain functions, great airships traverse back and forth across the seas as well as sailing ships, and raving hordes of plague driven mad persons (mostly lower class) wander the streets at night attacking in desperate need
Beth Dawkins
Nov 11, 2011 Beth Dawkins rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Alice is the daughter of an impoverished Baron. Almost all of her other relatives have died from the clock work plague, all but her father, and her mysterious aunt Edwina. Her aunt sends her clockwork inventions to put together every year for her birthday. One day she attends a ball, hoping to make a name for her family in society, and maybe even meet a man. She happens meet someone, but on her way home she is overran by plague zombies, only to be rescued by the mysterious group of people cal
April Steenburgh
Jan 10, 2012 April Steenburgh rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, fantasy
The clockwork plague hits rich and poor alike, turning some into zombies covered in sores that hide from the sun and others into geniuses called Clockworkers before burning them out in fits of destructive madness. The balance of power between nations rests in the Clockworkers and the improbable and often deadly inventions they create before the plague finally takes them. Alice lost her mother and brother to the clockwork plague. Her father survived, but is an invalid. The daughter of a Baron, he ...more
Patrick Hayes
Dec 30, 2011 Patrick Hayes rated it it was ok
I wanted Steampunk, and it's there, but the main character is so dreadful that it destroyed just about any entertainment value the book could achieve. Alice Michaels, the protagonist, is constantly flip-flopping between joining a secret agency that captures, uses, protects "clockwork" devices, the worst of which, those that could destroy the world, are kept in the Doomsday Vault, and staying engaged to a man she doesn't love, so that she may secure her position in society and ensure that her fat ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 16, 2015 08:24AM  
  • The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam, #1)
  • The Horns of Ruin
  • The Buntline Special (Weird West Tales, #1)
  • Tarnished (The St. Croix Chronicles, #1)
  • Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Heart, #1)
  • Dead Iron (Age of Steam, #1)
  • The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #2)
  • Heart of Brass (Clockwork Agents, #1)
  • Gossamer Wing (Steam and Seduction, #1)
  • The Bookman (The Bookman Histories, #1)
  • Blood in the Skies (The Hellfire Chronicles, #1)
  • Agatha H and the Airship City (Girl Genius Novels, #1)
  • Her Sky Cowboy (The Glorious Victorious Darcys, #1)
  • The Mysterious Lady Law
  • Like Clockwork
  • Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Burton & Swinburne, #3)
  • The Hunter (The Legend Chronicles, #1)
  • Steampunk'd

Other Books in the Series

Clockwork Empire (4 books)
  • The Impossible Cube (Clockwork Empire, #2)
  • The Dragon Men (Clockwork Empire, #3)
  • The Havoc Machine (Clockwork Empire, #4)

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