A swashbuckling good time through a well developed, sepia toned world. I’ve been hearing about this one for months and finally was able to get my hands on a copy and it lived up to all the hype.
Briar and Zeke are engaging, endearing characters with a well rounded feel to them. Mother and son being the costars in a book is a rare thing to find these days. They only share a few scenes together which can be frustrating, throughout the novel I found myself wanting more and more to see the two of them together and learn more about them by seeing them through each others eyes. The people they meet along the way are well rounded and enjoyable if a bit predictable.
The world is so distinctive it practically qualifies as a character. The novel is set in mid 1800’s Seattle where a destructive, zombiefying gas is seeping from the ground in the walled up city. The civil war has been raging for 20+ years and technology is taking a decidedly different turn. With steam powered weapons, gigantic machines and hydrogen fueled dirigibles both the tiny details and the set pieces are decidedly steampunk. I found all of this fascinating and the characters observations although providing a rich detailed picture left me wanting to enter the world and examine it all close up.
The environments are lusciously described with elegant prose that almost has you smelling the wretched stench of the Blight gas. Cherie Priest is a champion when it comes to describing something so well you can almost see it in your mind, the mark of a great speculative fiction author.
This is steampunk and speculative fiction at it’s best. Believable characters in a high energy adventure through a dark and complex world. Well worth the read.