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The Doomsday Vault

(Clockwork Empire #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,278 ratings  ·  152 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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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,278 ratings  ·  152 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. ...more
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. ...more
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
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I stopped reading after about 80 pages. While I thought some of the ideas here were compelling, I never felt any real attachment to the characters.

I only have a little time in my life right now for reading, so I am highly selective about the books I read. I give a book 50 pages to capture my attention. By that point it has either done so or it has not. If it is the latter, I'll go and read some reviews for it, and after I read some reviews about the overall story, I decided to give it 30 more p
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.
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. ...more
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. ...more
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.
Mark O'Neill
First time in this genre. Interesting but not too complex.
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Took a while to get started, but worth the wait. Intriguing story. Steampunk, action with some romance. Great mix.
An Odd1
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fan
Surprises part-guessed: who is masked? who is infected? will Alice keep rejecting Gavin?
Rohan Monteiro
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very entertaining - didn't expect to read a book meshing zombies with clockwork and enjoying it ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Did not finish
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
wow, that was a slog, & quarantine can only be blamed for about 12% of it.
Cori Thomas
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun and entertaining read. It kept me guessing and the descriptions where fantastic.
A highly imaginative alternative reality, it has action and romance.
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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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