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. Sixte...moreIn 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.(less)
Flip This Zombie is set 3 months or so after Married With Zombies. That's 3 months or so of zombie apocalypse and Sarah and Dave's Zombiebuster's Exte...moreFlip This Zombie is set 3 months or so after Married With Zombies. That's 3 months or so of zombie apocalypse and Sarah and Dave's Zombiebuster's Extermination, Inc business is booming. Sometimes literally. But lately they've been hearing strange reports from their clients and also the folk in the survivor camp nearby. Reports of bigger and slightly more intelligent zombies. Alongside these reports, they've been given an offer by a scientist to catch him some zombies and suddenly they have a lot on their plate.
Now, personally, I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first, but that's not to say it wasn't as fun, I just noticed a lot of the same old zombie tropes and clichés and I found Robbie "The Kid" a strange little character, though coincidentally, oddly charming.
I did like the idea that the library becomes the happening place for entertainment once the apocalpyse has come along and there is no more electricity and nowhere particularly safe, and so books become the best form of entertainment and as such those books are not allowed to leave the library. I also liked the idea that Sarah covets shiny new weapons like new toys after just a few months of becoming acquainted with them as a necessity, seeing as BZ ((Before Zombie - which by the way, doesn't have the same ring to it when you're British: Bee Zed)) she had probably never even been near a gun let alone fired one. It's little things like that, and the vague remnants of humanity that they come across in their day to day lives, that really make this book for me. That and the humour, of course. Without that light-hearted and sometimes a little dark (there are zombies, the humour has to get a little dark from time to time) humour, the Living with the Dead series wouldn't have been quite the same.
Sarah and David's characters have developed a lot in the few months that have passed since the apocalypse started and this is good. Where the bickering in the first book sometimes annoyed me, it's nice to see it mostly gone here, though now we see Dave getting pissed off every time Sarah disagrees with him, and she doesn't seem to have any objections about this. This bothers me a bit, especially when it gets to the, "Oh Dave, I should never have doubted you," part. Grow a pair!
I did, however, appreciate that Jesse doesn't spend 25% of the novel summing up the last one, which is a big pet peeve of mine as a reader. It's not so bad when there is a gap between reading the books and the next being released, but reading them in a series it's a pain, and it's very unnecessary as long as the main things are mentioned, you don't need it. So kudos for that, it made it much easier to read. But the big thing I love about Jesse's style, however, is the constant turning of the story. She'll throw in these great obstacles that the characters need to overcome or go around before the story can get boring and this keeps it going, keeps it fun and interesting, with new faces, places, and plots. Oh and the little pieces of zombie marital advice at the beginning of each chapter in Married With Zombies, in Flip This Zombie they read like business start-up advice for the zombie apocalypse.
All in all, though I wasn't quite as fussed about this one as I was about Married With Zombies, it was still a fun read that made me smile and I would recommend reading Flip This Zombie if you plan to read Eat Slay Love. The latter definitely continues on from this one.(less)
A further month after the events of Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love details life after Dave’s zombie bite and subsequent cure. It worked. Dave is stil...moreA further month after the events of Flip This Zombie, Eat Slay Love details life after Dave’s zombie bite and subsequent cure. It worked. Dave is still in one piece, he’s just a little.. different. And people are starting to notice. In particular, one stalkerazzi reporter, Nicole, who they meet. She ends up being a little more useful than expected on their way to the Midwest Wall to share the cure with somebody who could do some good with it and of course, finally, safety.
Now that I’ve read the series up to date, I can happily say that the best thing about these books for me is how quick and easy to read they are. I read all three in about a week and I’m a pretty slow reader. They’re just fun little reads and it’s so easy to pick them up for half an hour inbetween other things, and because of that they have a great re-readability. And it’s very easy to immerse yourself while reading these, which isn’t as bad as it might sound considering it’s set during a zombie apocalypse because that’s generally what you look for in a good read, though I say that and a few days after I’d finished reading them I had a zombie dream. That was pretty scary, because unlike Sarah and Dave, I don’t kick ass!
Despite the same fantastically placed obstacles that we saw in the previous two novels, I didn’t feel like this story was quite fast paced enough for me, though it was a little better than Flip This Zombie in my honest opinion. There were new characters and tight, barely-escaped from situations, but it didn’t feel like the story was really moving along very much for most of the book. And I despise the McCray character. Not because of who he is (a drug-addled rockstar), but because I really don’t enjoy the American depiction of typical Brits. There was actually a part where he picked up a baseball bat and called it a cricket bat. Those two things are nothing alike! Cricket bats have a flat-ish surface, if he was going to confuse it with anything then perhaps a rounders bat but being a rockstar known in the US, I’d imagine he knows what a baseball bat is. Brits aren’t stupid, and if the idea was that his drug-addled brain couldn’t tell the difference, that wasn’t presented very well.
I found the story picked up a lot towards the end, however, and it finally went somewhere. In fact, Eat Slay Love definitely had the most gripping ending of any of the books in the series so far (I’m assuming Jesse is writing more, it was left open for a sequel), leaving you on the edge of your seat.
The little notes at the beginnings of chapters in Eat Slay Love read like advice from a self help book for the zombie apocalypse. These don’t quite beat the zombie marital advice from Married With Zombies but are nevertheless just as light-hearted and hinting at events to come in the chapter. It makes me wonder what other kinds of advice Jesse might give us – perhaps travel advice for the zombie connoisseur?
To read Eat Slay Love, you will really need to read Flip This Zombie first just so you know what the heck is going on from the get go. I wouldn’t recommend doing so but you could maybe get away with reading them without Married With Zombies, even so I would still recommend reading all three. Jesse Petersen is clearly a massive geek and for that I will love her eternally.(less)
Married With Zombies has been described as a romantic comedy. I prefer to think of it more like when chick lit meets the zombie apocalypse. Does that...moreMarried With Zombies has been described as a romantic comedy. I prefer to think of it more like when chick lit meets the zombie apocalypse. Does that sound like basically the same thing? Perhaps, though to me it doesn’t particularly feel like a romance as much as a story about zombies with a couple going through marital problems in its midst. Each chapter gives you a new piece of marital advice for the couple living through the zombie apocalypse. These are both fitting and funny.
This is a story about a couple who are on the brink of divorce. Weekly, they see an overpriced marriage counsellor, and they are very close to giving up on each other when things start to get a bit weird. First off, they find their marriage counsellor tucking into her previous clients and have to fend her off with her own shoe before she can eat them too. Once they escape, they discover that this wasn’t just a one off thing but is in fact widespread throughout Seattle and they know they have to get out and fast. Who would have thought that all their relationship needed was a zombie apocalypse? Married With Zombies is all about Sarah and David’s journey to find safety and their family and the obstacles they have to overcome along the way.
The story is told from the perspective of Sarah, the female protagonist, with a little bit of hindsight. Though she never really says how long has passed in this one, it does give a nice touch of a developing story and it’s comforting to know that she survives at least this book, else of course she couldn’t be telling us what happened. The thing I like the most about Sarah and David is how they are just normal people with normal problems stumbling through this apocalypse together and in the face of survival, they become a little badass. Not ridiculously so, they still have their close calls and they go through an awful lot just to stay alive and that’s what makes them so perfect. Their flaws. They’re frightened, shaking, sick, in shock, as any normal person would be if suddenly their normality was overrun by zombies.
Sarah’s voice sprinkles humour throughout the story, making light of the horrible situations they inevitably keep coming across, which is especially welcome if you’re a little squeamish. There’s a lot of brain splatter and goo. Though it is a very well-balanced story. The zombie genre is treated with respect, and when the situation gets a little too horrible, Sarah ceases joking about it. Jesse Petersen gives Married With Zombies great attention to detail. She considers the little things that a lot of writers wouldn’t. Such as, you start shooting zombies, you have an efficient way to get rid of zombies, but if you’re not careful you will run out of ammo and the noise and commotion will draw more to you.
There are an incredible amount of pop culture references in here, which reminds you that this novel doesn’t take itself too seriously which was something that I particularly loved about it, though I sometimes felt that there were a few too many. I also found some of the dialogue a little bit limp. It wasn’t all bad, but these are the kinds of things that took away a little from my enjoyment of the novel.
Married With Zombies is a fun and easy to read story that I would definitely recommend to zombie fans, you will notice a lot of the same old zombie tropes in this series but the way in which it is written and the characters in it and the way they handle their situation is what makes it a great read. If you aren’t a zombie fan, read this, and you soon will be.(less)
The year is 2195 and Nora Dearly is living in a New Victorian society with all the technologies of the future, yet she is much more interested in the...moreThe year is 2195 and Nora Dearly is living in a New Victorian society with all the technologies of the future, yet she is much more interested in the war documentaries she used to watch with her father than being proper. Little does she know her life is about to get much more interesting when the living dead come for her in the night.
I really wanted to categorise this book as a “Futuristic New Victorian Zombie Romance With A Steampunk Twist” as that is what it is, but it was just a little too long for a category sadly. There is so much going on in this novel that you really do have to read it for yourself to see what it’s like and what it’s all about because I can’t accurately sum it up.
I wasn’t in the mood to read when I picked up Dearly Departed and I thoroughly loved and enjoyed it, it may even have rekindled my then-dwindling passion for reading. The execution of this story is just perfect. It’s so easy to get into and sympathise with the characters because it is such a cleverly weaved story. I could tell from the get-go how much love and effort has gone into this novel. The world-building and characterisation is so strong and there is never a dull moment. Everything from the history to the science to the emotions and backstory of each character has been intricately thought out and it gives the story so much depth.
The best thing about Dearly Departed for me was how it didn’t feel so much like a zombie book. Of course it is, but a lot of (not all) the zombies are able to retain their personalities and live out some kind of existence. This is why the romance between Nora and Bram (good guy zombie) works so well because Bram is still who he was when he was alive. I’ll admit that beforehand I was a little worried, I’m not usually big into Victorian style worlds or zombies1, but it really worked so don’t shrug it off as ‘not your thing’ before you try it because it is a wonderful and fun novel with a sense of humour.
I would recommend Dearly Departed for people who like their fiction particularly unique and who like their romantic leads a little flawed. If you’re into a more gentle romance, without any of the love triangles, destiny, or love at first sight overwhelming stuff, that carefully backs up an exciting story with various character point of views that keep the voice fresh, then give Dearly Departed a try. I honestly think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.(less)
Working Stiff is yet another in a stream of novels recently that has gripped me in so tightly that I simply couldn’t put it down and finished it in ju...moreWorking Stiff is yet another in a stream of novels recently that has gripped me in so tightly that I simply couldn’t put it down and finished it in just a few days without even realising how quickly I was reading. The main thing I took notice of about this book is that it isn’t a zombie novel in the traditional sense, in fact, the only thing that made this a zombie novel is that Bryn is a reanimated corpse. There are others like her as well, but they live just like normal human beings, or as close as you can get when a private corporation is keeping you on a tight leash and would rather see you rot than keep you alive, the only catch is that they are dead and must receive daily shots of this drug – Returné – to keep alive else they horribly and painfully decay. But there is no mindless staggering to find brains to eat at any cost, just a desperate struggle to remain alive when all but two, maybe three, people would rather you be otherwise. With all of that considered and the fast-paced action inbetween as they find a way to not only keep Bryn going with regular shots but also attempt to take down the company that they are owned by, who watch their every move, Working Stiff is most definitely an urban fantasy. And a damn good one at that.
I am fast becoming a Rachel Caine fangirl. I have now read three of her books and I have devoured each and every one. She is a genius at creating delightfully ordinary characters and thoroughly unique stories which are easy to read with just a sprinkling of humour and plenty of energy. This is exactly what I look for when I look for my next good read and Working Stiff has it down to a tee.
I was immediately drawn in by Bryn and how very like you and me she is. It begins with her first day working at Fairview Mortuary and her nervousness towards trying to impress her new boss and that her cheap clothes would make her stand out too much in such a rich person’s environment. She is so very human and in some ways that makes her the perfect candidate to become a zombie because rather than forgetting what she is, you see her humanity shining through. She has a crazy, but loving, family and a brilliant bulldog called Mr French who might be one of my favourite characters of all time, though I did wonder what became of him in the last part of the novel. Joe Fideli is a warm and funny character with skills aplenty and a wife and kids, and Patrick McCallister is the kind of character that you slowly warm to throughout the story, not really letting on anything about himself until much later on. There are some nasty bad guys to hate, heart-pumping, tense scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat (or wherever you happen to be reading), and some horrid situations that are pretty upsetting, and I have only the utmost respect for any author that can make me feel strong emotions. Rachel Caine has created a very believable story in Working Stiff that shall be going on my ‘to re-read and recommend’ pile.
Honestly, if you don’t tend to enjoy adult urban fantasy then I doubt this will be for you, but on the other hand if you are a fan of unique, dark stories with sympathetic heroines then read Working Stiff. If you also happen to enjoy the odd crime novel on the side, I have a feeling this will be right up your street. Personally, I don’t, but it is an excellent urban fantasy.(less)
I will admit to being a little unreasonably wary of The Dead Ways before picking it up because I was worried tha...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon A Time.
I will admit to being a little unreasonably wary of The Dead Ways before picking it up because I was worried that it might have been a little young for me as I have a history with not enjoying middle grade books because I often find the writing and story style too simplistic. However, I was not to worry. The Dead Ways is a great piece of fiction for young adults and adults alike. Okay, so there were quite a few convenient near misses throughout the novel but that's something I just associate with middle grade fiction and thus it bothers me a lot less than when it occurs in adult fiction.
As for the writing style itself I was gripped from the very first page. The Dead Ways begins with Scott being kidnapped from outside of his school and so straight away we have a fast paced scene and questions to be answered. Why kidnap Scott? Who are the kidnappers? What is so important about Scott's father? And though it's a very short novel at just under 200 pages, it feels just right. The story doesn't drag and it manages to fit everything in pretty perfectly.
I particularly enjoyed Tom's character. There's something about a gruff, almost-hippyish, Celtic loving, hairy middle-aged man that just makes that kind of character ultimately loveable (see: Hagrid). He was a caring father character with a few quirks and it was so easy to become attached to him.
Honestly, I think it was inevitable that I would love The Dead Ways considering how much ancient British legend and lost Celtic history was a part of the story. I'm a bit of a sucker for ancient Britain and legend. If you're looking for a quick but highly interesting and exciting read, do give The Dead Ways a try. And follow Christopher Edge on Twitter while you're at it!(less)