Well. Okay. So I was excited for The Rithmatist because it was Brandon Sanderson, then I really checked the premise.. chalk magic? What's that about?Well. Okay. So I was excited for The Rithmatist because it was Brandon Sanderson, then I really checked the premise.. chalk magic? What's that about? And read a couple of reviews talking about the prominence of religion in the story and how Rithmatists are supposedly "chosen by the Master" and honestly.. I worried. But then I got in the mood for some young adult fantasy and gave it a go anyway. This is a Sanderson novel. That bizarre premise works because he is the master of what he does. Honestly feels like Harry Potter for the new generation but with one of Brandonbot's signature epic endings which left me desperately wanting to read on. As Xia said in his review, thank god for 'to be continued'.
A full review will be featured in Clockwork Summer, my blog's steampunk feature coming August....more
In an alternate 1860s Seattle, Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke are living hand to mouth on the outskirts of a once bustling city of the gold rush. SixteIn an alternate 1860s Seattle, Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke are living hand to mouth on the outskirts of a once bustling city of the gold rush. Sixteen years previous, the city was literally torn asunder by the Boneshaker, a great drill-engine built by Briar’s then husband, Dr. Blue, to mine through Alaska’s ice in search of gold. This terrible disaster not only caused many deaths and ruined livelihoods but unearthed a blight gas that turns anybody who breathes it into the living dead. Now Zeke wants answers. Was his father really to blame? He heads off to the other side of the wall with an old gas mask and an antique rifle and only Briar can bring him back.
Last but not least in Discovering Steampunk: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Boneshaker is a cleverly weaved nail-biting story full of intricacies and hidden history. Beginning with a catastrophic event that shakes the very foundations of Seattle and its’ people, causing them to have to wall off the main part of the town to remove the possibility of blight contamination from the strange gas that was unearthed all those years ago, it reminded me a lot of an action-horror film.
It is a fantastically written piece of fiction. It’s atmospheric, chilling, and dark. The entire story has layers and hidden depths that I can only hope are explored in later books and the rich description paints such a clear picture of the environment that it is just the story and you. It is told from two perspectives, those of Briar and Zeke, and their stories are so tightly connected yet distant with entirely different voices that it really keeps the narrative ever-changing and fresh.
The relationship between Briar Wilkes, and her son Ezekial is explored in depth as he runs off to recredit his family name from beyond the wall, and Briar strives to rescue him from a world of ‘rotters’ (zombies), blight gas which turns people into rotters if breathed, and the criminals who have made a life for themselves there. It is heart-rending and gripping to the very end.
Briar might actually be one of my favourite heroines in modern fiction. She reminds me of a Ripleyesque 80′s action heroine, kicking arse and not just for the sake of it but because she has to. There is no romance, just a grim fight for survival of herself and her son and she is willing to do anything to save him. The strong female heroine is a very difficult trope to manage because very often it is taken too far and you know it’s been used just to make a statement, or they aren’t that strong at all, however, Briar is neither and I love that about her character.
I would recommend Boneshaker for folk who enjoy a good adult novel. There’s no sexual content but if you don’t enjoy adult fiction, you won’t enjoy this as it can be quite slow-going in parts. However, if that doesn’t bother you, then it comes highly recommended from me as a steampunk staple. There’s a bit of a horror element to it, though nothing that will have you hiding under the covers if you read it at night, there are a few zombies, a strong criminal underground, and everything fits together so well. It’s easy to lose yourself in the story and forget that you’re reading a work of fiction....more
1914 Europe is on the brink of war and 15 year old Austrian Prince Alek is on the run from the same Clankers (allies who use steam-powered machinery)1914 Europe is on the brink of war and 15 year old Austrian Prince Alek is on the run from the same Clankers (allies who use steam-powered machinery) who killed his parents for no other reason than to incite this war. Meanwhile, the Darwinist Brits running the Leviathan, a massive hybrid flying beast ship, run into a little trouble of their own with the Clankers whilst on their way to try to make peace before war can begin. The story follows the perspectives of both Alek and Deryn, a girl who loves nothing more than flying and had to disguise herself as a boy to be able to join the British Air Service to even be considered entry.
What Leviathan attempts to do is to combine old boyish adventure stories with more modern ideals to make the story appealing to both genders whilst using a steampunk theme, and it does this perfectly. It is an utterly imaginative, high-speed tale that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It literally doesn’t stop. And the combining of the two stories, that of Alek and that of Deryn, come together so fluidly you can’t fault it. Each character is given two chapters in turn which keeps the flow.
The pictures sprinkled throughout the book add to the overall feel of the novel really well, adding visualisation where description might be lacking, as well as a more alternate 1914 atmosphere. I found myself inspecting the pictures as more than just images to accompany the words because they are as much a part of Leviathan as the story itself and they’re so fantastic. The cover pictured in this post features a full colour version of one of the images from the book. This is a much newer cover recently released by Simon & Schuster and I absolutely love it, I think it’s gorgeous.
Scott’s reinvention of World War One Europe is, in my mind, absolute genius. While I was interested in the Clanker’s very steampunkesque lifestyle and weaponry, using a vast array of Walkers which were impressive on their own, I was completely amazed by the idea of the Darwinists. Fabricated beasts bio-engineered for use as airships, weapons, and all sorts of crazy things, including the message lizards which record a message and then run off to play back the message in the person’s voice just like a tape recorder.. it actually reminded me a little of the Flintstones. I found the entire concept of Darwinists versus Clankers fantastic, and the more you read, the more you realise that yes, these were the allies. The afterword is also worth a read as it explains the true history Leviathan was based upon and I think this quote sums steampunk up very nicely: “That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.”
I think Leviathan may perhaps be a little too young for my usual tastes. Though I appreciated everything about it and I couldn’t find fault in the story as a whole, I found myself wishing towards the end that it might slow down a little bit. I like a breather in my books to allow for conversation between characters and intrigue to develop, but that’s just me. As a kid’s book Leviathan is brilliant.
I believe that this book should be a must read for all kids around the age of 10, though by no means would I suggest anybody much older than this age avoid it because it is such a fun and beautiful novel, if you haven’t read Leviathan yet, you really should. It is a wonderful introduction to steampunk and a fully enjoyable read....more