by Cherie Priest
Cover Artist: Jon Foster
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318411
Date: 13 October 2009 List Price $15.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Boneshaker is Cherie Priest's newest novel. Taking place in the 1880s, Seattle is a walled city. Or more accurately there's a wall around a large portion of what used to be the city of Seattle, and everyone lives outside the wall because within is devastation, poison gas and the walking dead that the gas creates. The story starts when a reporter tries to interview Briar Wilkes about her husband Leviticus Blue, his invention which tore up the city and released the gas, and her father Maynard Wilkes. Briar doesn't give him much and he leaves. Her teenage son, Zeke, stops the reporter to find out what his mother said. He wants to find proof that his father wasn't a criminal.
From the beginning, you get the feeling that a lot more is going on under the words. Briar is hiding something -- from the reporter, from her son, and from us the reader. She's our point of view character but she plays everything close to her chest. We get in Zeke's head for some of the book, but he's seeking answers too. In his quest for answers, Zeke gathers some equipment and enters the city hoping to find the house where his parents once lived and that he's never seen.
Briar, once she learns where Zeke has gone, will stop at nothing to get him back and safe. In her search for a way into the city, for Zeke, and for a way out, the reader learns more about this city, the country, and its people.
How I managed to last so long without having read Cherie Priest, I don't know, but I do know that I'll be on the look out for her new steampunk stories. The narrative is so crisp, just like its main character, there's nothing fancy, just down to earth straight shooting. From the first you get pulled into the story and then there's no way to put it down because you need, really, really, need to know what happens next.
These characters are rich and fully formed people. There's the good. The evil. The ones out only for themselves. The ones who don't have to help but will. In this mixed bag of people living on the edge in the poisoned atmosphere within the wall you meet all types. But no matter who they are, you believe in them. For the time you are within the pages of Boneshaker, you believe in this world of zombies created by poisoned gas, dirigibles, clockwork machines, and a Civil War that has run on far longer than it did in our world.
What will a mother do to save the life of her son? If Briar Wilkes is the mother, she'll do anything she has to--anything at all.