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The Doomsday Vault

(Clockwork Empire #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,255 ratings  ·  146 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.

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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,255 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Jan 26, 2012 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
Nov 08, 2011 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
Oct 28, 2011 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 16, 2011 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 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
James Tullos
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
See my full thoughts here:

I have very little to say here. Just look at the cover of this book and imagine how stupid it is, then add a little more stupidity on top of that. This is overbloated cheesy fun of the highest order. I could pick it apart and examine every problem if I wanted, I just don't want to. When a book has a scene where a man fires an electric rifle into a crowd of zombies, you know it isn't meant to be taken the least bit seriously. If this sounds e
Feb 28, 2012 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
Steve Walker
Sep 07, 2012 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
Apr 14, 2012 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 14, 2011 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 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 16, 2013 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 21, 2011 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.
Sep 05, 2011 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.
Oct 12, 2012 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.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk
started out okay but got progressively sillier. The romance angle lacked any heat or chemistry so that didn't help.
Mary K
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, a book carries you along so easily and so completely that you don't notice minor issues. The Doomsday Vault is such a book for me. The story is told in third person, in alternating character points of view. Gavin, an American dirigible airman and musician, is the story's soul. His origin story is traumatic, and his choices, bad and good, feel authentic. Descriptions of Gavin flying, playing the fiddle, riding a giant automaton into battle--I could have read the whole book in his viewp ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a nice, light read. I read some of the reviews before reading the book, and worried a little - but I didn't feel it was so bad on the details as others believed. And it worked with what I already knew of Steven Harper's Clockwork Empire books. It does have a bit more romance than I was expecting, but that's not a drawback in my estimation.
Jack Webb
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geek heaven

Yeah, I'm talking about me. And I just can't help but like a good Steampunk yarn. Alternate history, Victorian England with plenty of silly English class ways, wild and wonderful gadgets galore, with some good characterizations and plot twists to round out the story. Works for me.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Steampunk adventure. Very PG-13, though, why they are using modern swear words in the 1800's, I'll never know.

She has nothing, but a name and he is a young man from America left with nothing after pirates take his captain and the dirigible they were flying in.

Oh, and there's a plague.

She's older - He's younger.

Stilted. A summer read.
Jun 22, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Many of the expected elements of steampunk, a few less expected... Adult themes such as a young male character's near brush with rape are treated subtly and appropriately for a YA audience. Writing and plot are reasonable but story pacing is off -- could easily have started 3-4 chapters later than it does.
Mark O'Neill
First time in this genre. Interesting but not too complex.
Dark Faerie Tales
Nov 12, 2011 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,
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk
You may also read my review here:

Alice Michaels’ prospects are not good. In 1850’s London,it’s all about appearances. Well,appearances and money,and Alice and her father simply don’t have any. She’s to be a Baroness,but since Alice’s mother,brother,and fiancé were killed by the clockwork plague,it left her father a cripple,and Alice a social pariah. Hoping to get back into society’s good graces,Alice decides to attend a ball,and see if she can meet someon
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Stephanie  G
Nov 11, 2011 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
Beth Dawkins
Oct 29, 2011 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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
Well this book took me a laughably long time to finish. I would look for every excuse NOT to get back to this book. I reread several book instead of finishing this. It was... rough.

Don't get me wrong, Harper had some really neat ideas. The clockwork plague as a concept was neat, as was the government putting clockworkers to work for them.

The problem is that Harper was not a very good storyteller. He seemed to have a lot more interest in explaining fantastic inventions instead of developing chara
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Alice's life has been slowly deteriorating since the Plague struck her family hard. She lost her mother and brother to the clockwork plague, and then several years later, her fiance as well. So now everyone treats her like a pariah. At 21 she is already long past the prime age for a desirable marriage, and her love of automatons has even further outcast her. In a last ditch effort to save her family's honor she goes to one last ball to try and snag a fiance. This sets in a chain of events that w ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 16, 2015 08:24AM  

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A pseudonym of Steven Piziks

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a name that no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he often writes under the pen name Steven Harper. He lives in Michigan with his family. When not at the keyboard, he plays the folk harp, fiddles with video games, and pretends he doesn’t talk to the household cats. In the past, he’s held jobs as a reporter, theater producer, secre


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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