Review of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest



Boneshaker is set in a steampunk Seattle with airships and zombies.  It’s a fun book. 

The civil war is raging back east, so there’s no outside help in sight for the citizens in and around the city.  About fifteen years before the novel opens, an inventor named Leviticus Blue used his huge drilling machine (the titular Boneshaker) to rob bank vaults.  The drill caused earthquakes that killed many, many people.  He also released the blight gas, which killed everyone who breathed it and turned some of them into zombies. 

The people of Seattle, those left alive, anyway, built a huge wall around the city to hold back the gas and the zombies. 

Briar Wilkes lost both her husband and her father in the incident.  Her father was a lawman who died while helping trapped prisoners escape the gas.  He became a venerated hero among the city’s outlaws.  But her husband was Leviticus Blue.  She gave birth to their son Ezekiel the day the wall was completed, and refused to tell him anything about her life before. 

Ezekiel ventures into the city to clear his father’s name, and Briar follows him.  They have separate adventures, each dealing with zombies, outlaws, and the poisonous blight gas.  Eventually they both end up facing the mysterious inventor who runs the city and who wants people to think that he’s Leviticus Blue. 

The book switches between Ezekiel and Briar’s points of view, and both characters are engaging and interesting.  The story is full of action and interesting people, and it really is fun.  There’s a reveal at the end that didn’t surprise me, and I felt that keeping the information from the reader hurt the point of view in a few places.  The whole ending felt a bit rushed and wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked.  But even with those problems, I still enjoyed it, and I’d give it a 4/5. 



About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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