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“Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest: Clockwork Mortuary

Malcolm Streitfeld

Anchor Contributor

Image via Pexels/Caio

Ring Ring. All aboard. Strap on your belts and get your rations ready. We’re heading up north in search of Klondike gold in “Boneshaker,” a novel written by Cherie Priest.


This swashbuckling, steampunk stampede of a novel begins in the mid-nineteenth century. For Russian prospectors who need a machine to drill in the Alaskan ice for gold, Dr. Leviticus Blue invents the drill laden Boneshaker. Unfortunately, his massive monstrous contraption soon goes haywire and rampages through the Seattle underground. The resulting earthquake ravages the town and sends civilians fleeing for safety.


To make matters worse, a deadly gas seeps out of the tunnels left in the wake of the Boneshaker’s onslaught. Everyone unfortunate enough to inhale the noxious fumes is left a shambling, flesh-craving cadaver. Before long, all but a few of the residents of Seattle are left as members of a quickly growing undead horde. Left with no other options, the survivors of the outbreak either flee for the countryside or stay behind to make a living in the now abandoned homes and alleyways of the once thriving city.


16 years later, a wall has been built around Seattle. On the outskirts of the settlement, Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes, and her son Zeke live a tough, but peaceful life. That is until Zeke, seeking answers about the father who his mother has refused to reveal information about for the longest time, sneaks into Seattle. Briar must now embark on a heart-pounding expedition to bring her son home.


This book is an incredible, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride from beginning to end. Briar’s close relationship with Zeke forms the heart of the story. The unyielding determination and perseverance both show Briar in her quest to reunite with her son no matter what it takes and Zeke on his adventure to uncover the past no matter how much people try to keep it buried. This makes them stand true and strong as emblems of male and female solidarity that both boys and girls will be able to look up to.


In my early days, I went to a steampunk convention and the sheer creativity in the meticulously pieced together costumes on display there jump started my interest in the genre. As time went by, I indulged this interest by reading first Matthew J. Kirby’s “The Clockwork Three,” and then Jim Butcher’s “The Aeronaut’s Windlass,” as well as watching the film “Hugo.”


So do you think you have the street smarts to survive in the desolated Seattle alleyways? Can you evade swarms of hungry bodies and cunning bandit gangs? Pack well and find out. Pick up Boneshaker today – the machine waits for you underground.


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