Cherie Priest

Books: Fantasy | Steampunk | YA

Boneshaker (2009), Clementine (2010)

Boneshaker (2009)

I started this book the week Grandmom went into the hospital.

Unsurprisingly, it took me a bit to get back to it, as I remembered almost nothing of what I read–not because of the story, but because I was distracted.

Briar Wilkes had been married to a man claimed to have been not just a mad inventory, but a greedy mad inventor, who was reputed to have stolen millions when he destroyed Seattle and released "blight gas" which turns all those who breathe it into rotters (aka zombies [I hate zombies]).

Briar's father was a lawman who stayed and released the prisoners who had been left behind to die when the blight gas reached them.

Briar's son Zeke was born after the evacuation of Seattle and the building of the wall that kept the blight gas from reaching the rest of the population. He wants to rehabilitate the images of his grandfather and his father, even though he never knew either man. Briar agrees with him that his grandfather was–in fact–a hero. But as for Leviticus Blue–Briar is convinced that he was fully deserving of his reputation, even though that reputation has made her and Zeke's lives miserable.

Steamships! The Civil War! A female heroine who risks death and danger to attempt to save her son!

And yeah. Zombies.

Cherie Priest fully admits that she made changes to the historical timeline to make events fit better with her story. Even yet, she gets more history right (even with her alternate history) than many past presidential candidates.

Briar was a wonderful heroine. She wasn't very much a woman of her times, however, being the widow of a monster–and a single mother to boot–pretty much forces you to do what you have to do. But she was a very strong woman, doing what she had to. I always like that in a main character.

I can't say I liked the zombies, but I wasn't as freaked out by them as I thought I would be.

The other thing I particularly liked was the science. Sure, there are zombies, but they weren't created by magic, and the mechanical flying ships (as with all things Steampunk) are theoretically functional. Oh. And the idea of flying steam ships as part of the Civil War? Wow.

So, I liked it. And I recommend it. Yeah, I have problems starting it, but those were external to me rather than internal to the story.

Rating: 7/10

Clementine (2010)

Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey is mad as hell: someone has stolen his ship, the "Free Crow," and he'll stop at nothing to get it back, even if that means going back into Confederate territory, where he'll be (at best) hung as a runaway slave.

Maria Isabella Boyd has been discarded by the Confederacy. She's become too well-known to act as a spy any longer, and her late husband was a Union soldier, which made the South doubt her loyalty. So now she's working for the Pinkerton agency, hoping her skills as a spy will serve her well as a detective.

We met Hainley (and the Free Crow) in passing in Boneshaker, but you don't have to have read that book to read Clementine.

This is straight-up steam punk. Dirigibles are used in the war between the North and the South, and the war has stretched on and on and on.

It was very interesting–I really didn't want to have any sympathy for a confederate spy–I've never bought the whole "War of Northern Aggression" bullshit touted by the deep south. Yet I did eventually find Belle Boyd sympathetic, as much as I didn't want to.

And I think that mentally, I was willing to forgive Hainley a lot of sins, because he was an ex-slave.

All-in-all, it was a very interesting idea.

Published by Subterranean Press

Rating: 7/10