Yes, two steampunk/zombie mash-ups in a single week. If I believed in karma, I would say that this is my reward for being generally awesome (I'm specifically awesome too, but no one likes a braggart). More zombies, more pirates, more airships, zero love story.
Set during the early Civil War, Leviticus Blue is commissioned by Russian gold prospectors to build a drill that can punch through the layers of ice in the Klondike. On its test run, the machine called Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, destroys part of downtown Seattle and hits a vein of poisonous gas that turns the people exposed to it into zombies. The people of Seattle escape and eventually wall off the poisoned city, leaving the zombies trapped inside.
Sixteen years later, Briar Wilkes, Leviticus' widow, is living in the Outskirts as a pariah. Her son Ezekiel desperately wants to prove his father innocent of malicious wrong-doing. He sneaks into the walled city to search for proof. When Briar finds out what's he's done, she follows him in. Essentially, that is the whole story. And it's all right there on the back cover.
The world the story is set in sounds like a good time. I wouldn't want to live there, but I wouldn't mind visiting. Cherie Priest is a talented writer but the story needed some development. The pacing was well-set for the most part but sometimes the contrast between RUNNING FROM ZOMBIES and HIDING FROM ZOMBIES made it stutter a bit. Also, the bits from Zeke's POV made me feel a little stabby. Briar was a way more sympathetic character. And even though the story felt steampunk, a lot of the extras that would make it more authentic were relegated to window dressing. Yeah, we have some funny weapons, and the Boneshaker certainly counts, but it was more like eating a steampunk cookie when I wanted a meal. But I sure do the love shambling dead.
It sounds like I hate this book. I don't. I like it a lot, but if it didn't take itself so seriously, I would probably like it more. But I may be giving it more points than it deserves because, really it sounds like it should BE SO AWESOME. This may also be why I can't snark on it. Read it, but don't read it excitedly.
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, The Clockwork Century, Book 1