Boneshaker: Cherie Priest's swashbuckling steampunk Seattle story

Cherie Priest's zombie steampunk mad-science dungeon crawl family adventure novel Boneshaker is everything you'd want in such a volume and much more.

Boneshaker is the story of the Wilkes/Blue family, a storied Seattle clan whose three generations unmade and remade the city through a series of scientific and martial adventures that are recounted with great relish and verve. First, there's Leviticus Blue, an arrogant mad scientist who developed a great tunnelling machine (part of a Russian-sponsored competition to improve Alaskan gold-mining) and undermined the city of Seattle, releasing the Blight, a poisonous gas that causes the dead to rise, and to hunger for the flesh of the living. Then, Maynard Wilkes, a prison guard in Seattle, committed an act of great mercy and bravery by releasing the prisoners in his care before they could be blighted, losing his life in the process, and becoming a hero to those left behind the walled-off city of Seattle, and a pariah to the settlers in the Outskirts beyond the wall. Then there's Briar Wilkes, the widow of Leviticus and the daughter of Maynard, who is scraping by in the Outskirts, trying to outrun her reputation but unable to, and unable to escape Seattle because of the great Civil War that is eating America with martial trains and dirigibles and great armies. Finally, there's Ezekiel Wilkes, the son of Briar and Leviticus, who has snuck back into the walled city, wearing an antiquated Blight-mask, to discover the truth about his father.

And that's where the action kicks off, with son and mother chasing one another through the Blighted city of Seattle, avoiding the zombies, befriending the Chinese laborers who run the great machines that suck clean air from beyond the wall into the sealed tunnels beneath the city, trying to escape the clutches of the evil Dr Minnericht, the self-appointed king of Seattle (who may or may not be Leviticus Blue), befriending rogue zeppelin pilots, armored giants, and steam-powered cyborg barmaids.

It's full of buckle and has swash to spare, and the characters are likable and the prose is fun. This is a hoot from start to finish, pure mad adventure.

Boneshaker

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