Kathy Davie's Reviews > Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
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Apr 24, 12

bookshelves: steampunk
Read from December 20, 2011 to February 21, 2012

First in the Clockwork Century steampunk series. This particular story is based in...around...1880 Seattle with a focus on Briar Wilkes Blue and her too-adventurous son Zeke.


My Take
Grim. Gritty. Claustrophobic. It really is a very good story and is cleverly done, but it took me forever to read it, strictly due to its grim setting. The characters were well-done. What intrigued me were the questions Priest kept tossing about for which I needed answers and, being a gadget girl, I loved reading about the inventions they came up with to survive inside the walls. I'm not sure how Briar figures she's gonna find her boy in that city when you can barely see the nose in front of your face...in the daytime and it's safer to spend your time underground away from the rotters and out of the Blight.

It was rather fun to read how Priest changed history around to suit her needs as well.

Oh wow. The end was not what I was expecting. It's rather irritating how Priest ended it too. We're left hanging as to just what they managed to bring out. Where they took off to.


The Story
Zeke is angry. Angry that everyone thinks that all the ills are his mother's fault. His grandfather's fault. And it's just not true. So, maybe, just maybe, the Blight isn't his father's fault either. And he intends to go inside the walled-up city to find the proof!

It takes a lemon sap dealer to tell Briar the truth about Zeke's whereabouts, the path he took. Not that it helps when an earthquake collapses the tunnel. Instead Briar has to make the rounds of the pirates, hoping someone can give her a lift over the 200-foot walls.

It'll be an expedition. She'll need weapons and a good gas mask with extra filters---you breath the Blight in and you turn into a rotter. Most people inside aren't your friend although Briar and Zeke both hope that the name of Maynard Wilkes will still mean something to people.

And so it goes, for they both meet up with people who help and hinder. Giving us a tour of the old city topped off with a visit to the old homestead over on Denny Hill. There's a lot of struggle with the gas masks, the pain of the Blight reaching any exposed parts of your body. Meeting the various peoples who make up the old city's population...including Dr. Minnericht with his taunts and lies.

It's too bad Dr. M was so caught up in himself and hurt so many people. Holding Briar prisoner...m..m..mmm...nope, it simply provided the spark.


The Characters
Briar Wilkes Blue is the widow of the man who destroyed Seattle and the daughter of Maynard Wilkes, a hero to the people inside the Wall for saving the lives of 22 people condemned to die because others were too afraid.

Ezekiel "Zeke" Wilkes is her teen-aged son.

Leviticus Blue was an inventor who created "Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine" for a Russian mining consortium. And, one night in 1863, on a test drive---he claimed---everything went to pot.

Captain Croggon Hainey passes Briar on to Captain Andan Cly of the Naamah Darling. A man who owes Briar a debt for what her father done for him.

Jeremiah Swakhammer and the habitues of Maynard's, one of the safe places underground. Ms. Lucy O'Gunning has a mechanical arm courtesy of Dr. M and she runs Maynard's. When the rotters attack Maynard's Lucy, Jeremiah, and the patrons help Briar win free. But Lucy's arm is damaged and that's how Briar ends up imprisoned by Dr. M. The man who harangues her for not telling him about his son even though Briar knows better. Lucky for Briar that her son is just stubborn enough and Jeremiah and Lucy are just mad enough.

Alistair Mayhem "Rudy" Osterude has his own reasons for "helping" Zeke. I suspect Miss Angeline is much more helpful and tries to get Zeke out of the city; she also knows the truth about Dr. M. It's just that Captain Brink with his newly-stolen Clementine was the wrong guy to ask.

Dr. Minnericht rules inside. He always inventing new tools and gadgets, ways to freshen the air. He came up with the lemon sap and gets his royalties for it. He's a cruel man. Always slapping on extra taxes and tolls, expenses and fees so you never get out from under him. He'll send the rotters after ya if he thinks you're holding out. Yaozu is the doctor's right-hand man. He's also the man who finds Zeke and brings him in. Joe Foster was a nasty man and just got nastier when the walls went up.


The Cover
The grim sepia tones of the cover seem to be created using pastels to create the firm-jawed Briar looking upward with her exotic gold goggles one lens of which reflects a skeleton of a dirigible.

The title is the cause of all the mayhem within the covers. It's Blue's Boneshaker of a mining machine.
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