Opening line: ‘Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation’s coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers.’
Driven by rumours of gold in the Klondike, prospectors stream to the Pacific Northwest, stopping in Seattle on their way north. Russian prospectors commission the inventor and scientist to build for them a great drilling machine. But on its first run, Leviticus Blue’s Boneshaker machine destroys most of downtown Seattle and releases a subterranean gas that turns all who breathe it into the living dead. The city is quarantined, surrounded by a great wall that keeps the Blight and the undead inside, and the living out. Blue’s widow and son escape, living a hard life on the Outskirts. When he is a teenager, Ezekiel resolves to clear his father’s name on a quest that takes him into the heart of Blight-stricken Seattle. His mother goes after him; once inside, both Briar and Ezekiel find that there is more in Seattle than the Blight gas and its victims…
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest is a steampunk alternate history science-fiction novel about zombies. It is the second steampunk novel I have attempted to read (the first being Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia, which I chose not to finish for writing style reasons). I’m not entirely convinced that steampunk works well in the written form — for visual modes of storytelling it’s a lot of fun, but, for me at least, it was less so in a book. Even so, if you want a light-hearted read about zombies, pirates, historical conceits, then this would be a good book for you.
Has anyone read other steampunk fiction? What would you recommend?