Select language, opens an overlay


Book - 2009 | 1st ed.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Ezekiel Blue's father committed a crime, unleashing a deadly menace into steampowered Seattle. And his bereaved family has paid the price. Now, Ezekiel is determined to clear his father's name, risking death and the undead in the attempt.Sixteen years ago, as the American Civil War dawned, gold brought hordes to the frozen Klondike. Fanatical in their greed, Russian prospectors commissioned Dr Leviticus Blue to create a great machine, to mine through Alaska's ice. Thus the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was born. But the Boneshaker went awry, destroying downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas. Anyone who breathed its fumes turning into the living dead. The devastated city is now walled in to contain the blight. But unknown to Briar, his widowed mother, Ezekiel is going in. His quest will take him into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780765318411
Branch Call Number: PRIES
Characteristics: 416 p.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
JCLCharlesH Dec 18, 2020

This steam punk fiction novel is set in Washington territory in the late 19th century. 16 years after the devastating Baneshaker drilling machine destroys downtown Seattle and releases the toxic Blight gas, the son of the inventor braves the ruined city to try to prove his dad's innocence, and his mother must come to his rescue. Family ties and post apocalyptic steam punk drive forward a unique and fascinating story.

LVCCLD_MsTea Aug 07, 2019

I really loved this entry into the Steampunk oeuvre. The fear of a mother who is chasing after her son, and who feels deep regret about the ways in which she has failed to show up in his life was extremely compelling. The scenes from Zeke's point of view were harrowing, especially when the characters were in close proximity but entirely unaware of it. Each character was uniquely enjoyable, even the villains.

SCL_Justin Jul 28, 2017

Maybe if I’d read Cherie Priest’s steampunk novel Boneshaker when it first came out I would have been more excited about it. But something about the confluence of time and self and book did not add up to a really great experience even though I can’t pin down anything about the book that might cause this.

It’s an alternate 1880s Seattle where 15 years ago a mad scientist named Leviticus Blue built a giant drilling machine and accidentally unleashed the Blight, a gas that turns people into zombie-like Rotters. This story is about Blue’s son, Zeke, going over the wall into the Blight-ridden parts of Seattle to find some answers about his father. It’s also about Zeke’s mother, Briar, trying to go find her son and bring him back safe.

The storylines don’t exactly alternate chapters, but we see both Zeke and Briar try to navigate the deadly world inside the wall in their different ways. There are airships and grand railway cars and drugs and big suits of armour and mechanical arms and you see a number of characters from both Zeke and Briar’s perspective at different times.

The portrayal of the Chinese people in the city bothered me. They were inscrutable, or scheming viziers, or mindless automatons or “amazingly bright” with technology and language but treated with casual racist condescension by the heroes. I know the 1880s weren’t a wonderful enlightened time, but there’s enough anachronism in steampunk I think you don’t have to reinforce all the racist stereotypes at once.

It’s a well-put-together tale, but I kind of felt like it was all just a chain of scenes to the end. There wasn’t anything that made me think differently about life or technology or mothers and sons or whatever. For something kind of similar that I loved, I’d recommend Mechanique.

Nov 29, 2014

Boneshaker was the kind of steampunk historical fantasy novel that I didn't see coming. I get frustrated with a LOT of the Victoriana steampunk novels out there, for their sheer stupidity and likewise, I'm charmed by steampunk novels that show me something new. That's where this one lands.

Because steampunk. Apocalyptica. Zombies. And the kind that are scary and fast.

I loved that the main character is not some young heroine, but a late 30's aged mother. And the other women in this book are suitably kick-ass, and also in their 50's and beyond. I loved that the Seattle Underground and 1880's Seattle infrastructure plays such a key role, even given the liberal fact changes for story's purpose. I loved seeing characters plucked out of Seattle history and dropped into this story. And it was a rollicking ride, especially after about halfway through.

This was my first Cherie Priest novel, but not my last. It's a must-read for steampunk fans and zombie fiction fans, and I also recommend it for fans of historical fantasy, Seattle lovers especially. And if you've never been on the Seattle Underground tour (and you SHOULD DO THIS), suffice to say her description of the tunnel areas isn't far off to what actually exists today. Parts of the story are implausible, of course (it IS fantasy), but the touchstone of Seattle's true underground and layout are delightful.

May 22, 2013

pretty good.I did not like the writting though. it felt a bit jerky the story did not flow. But the story is good

harleyboo Mar 05, 2013

I agree 100% with Erika2525. She is a weak writer with a good story line. She takes too much time on describing the settings (and pretty much none on the characters) and most seem to be repeated sceens ( it's dark and hard to see thru the Blight there are trash and boxes.......ect) stop going into detail on things that don't make the stroy move along. I know the characters move around in the book but to me it felt like they were in the same 3 types of scenarios and it got very boring. I also thought for a steampunk book it really didnt have much in the way of steampunk itself. Yeah ok it had a few interesting weapons but nothing that makes steampunk good. I will not be reading anymore from this writer. Save your time!

Jun 20, 2012

I feel the same way about Boneshaker as I do about Priest's Eden Moore series, namely that she has a lot of great ideas, but can be a weak writer overall.

I enjoy her vision of Southern Gothic and Northwest Steampunk alike, but she nevertheless can wind up creating non-sympathetic characters, writing scenes that seem better suited for cinema (in Boneshaker's case), and using way too much exposition and resorting to deus ex machina when she writes herself into a corner (in the Eden Moore trilogy).

I definitely feel that she could use a better editor.

alexa_m Jun 04, 2012

I really loved this book! It was fun and exciting to read and Cherie Priest paints a wonderful visual image in your head. You can really immerse yourself in the scenery and story.

j3howard Feb 07, 2012

Great book. I haven't read all of her books yet, but this is my favorite so far.

Nov 20, 2011

Love this book so much I went out and bought it! Cherie is a gutsy author that creates believable characters and an alternative history the reader merges into and reluctantly leaves as the last page is finished.

View All Comments


Add Notices
May 22, 2013

Coarse Language: its a dystopian world....of course theres swearing!!!

May 22, 2013

Violence: duh its a steampunk zombie novel

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
May 22, 2013

JihadiConservative thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top