In an alternate America of the 1880s, Leviticus Blue invents a mining machine that is supposed to revolutionize the growing town of Seattle. Instead he loses control of the Bone-shaking Drill Engine, which breaks loose and tears through the underground of the town, causing buildings and roads to collapse within the tunnels made by the machine. Then a mysterious blight gas is released that somehow turns anyone who breathes enough of it into the living dead.
Sixteen years pass and the city is walled off, turning it into a zombie graveyard. There are those who live on the inside of the wall, eking out a survival, always terrified they will breathe the gas and be turned. Then there are those who live on the outside of the wall, having abandoned their city, living in poverty, trying their best to get by. Finally there are the zeppelins and airships that ferry, transport, and smuggle items into and out of Seattle.
Briar Wilkes, husband to the late Leviticus Blue, is doing her best to get by, while supporting a growing teenage boy. Only Ezekiel wants to find out more about his dad, wondering if he might still be alive, and whether he was truly to blame for the tragedy that befell Seattle. Ezekiel sneaks past the wall through a sewer pipe and travels into the doomed town. Briar soon discovers that her greatest fear has come true, and she must go in after him. She will make friends on the inside, but also enemies, while fighting to find out if her son is still alive, as well as making sure she doesn’t get turned by the blight gas.
Cherie Priest has created a wonderfully original story in what she says is a response to the Steampunk look of hat and goggles. The result is a fun, action-packed book that explores the relationship of a mother and son with an unusual past, along with designed yellowed pages and brown print that gives Boneshaker a whole unique look.
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Originally written on January 24th, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.