This book contains all the standard tropes of Steampunk, including airships, goggles, and mad scientists but makes something fresh of it by adding in alternate history and Steampunk Zombies. It's primarily entertainment -- the literary equivalent of an action movie. But, a very good book and a very good action movie.
In this tale, the American Civil War has bloodily dragged into the late 1880s, the Klondike Goldrush happened earlier, and Seattle (Washington Territory) is home to tens of thousands of settlers. Due to an experimental earth-drilling invention that went awry, (the Boneshaker) a vein of gas (known as the Blight) has infected downtown Seattle. The town has to be walled off from the Outskirts. Within the walled city are roaming bands of rotters (think zombies), and some people crazy enough to venture inside and eke out a living among the rotters and Blight gas. When 15-year-old Zeke sneaks into the city to clear his father's good name. His mother, Briar, heads in after him and that's when things get really interesting. The Mother and son combination reminded me a bit of Sarah and John Connor (minus the world-saving destiny part), and the subsidiary characters were plentiful, clearly realized and interesting. As always, Preist's women are three-dimensional and strong. Tor's printing and book design (cream paper with sepia-brown ink) shows real care and thought. Priest's storytelling shows the same. She has, as proven by her Civil War tales, a wonderful grasp of the American Victorian Era, and being somewhat knowledgeable of that time myself, only added to my enjoyment of it.
My very favorite book of 2009. Not the best book I read, but absolutely a wonderful, fun and even interesting diversion. View all my reviews >>