This is the story of a middle-aged woman who ventures into the walled, zombie and poison gas filled streets of an alternate Seattle to find her teenage son when he runs away looking for news about his long dead father.
This is very much in the steampunk genre so there are airships and gas masks and goggles and machines and there are people of ridiculous statures and over the top personalities with clockwork machines grafted on to their bodies.
There are secrets to overturn and history to rewrite or discover.
The book is a nice departure from the gothic horror that Cherie Priest wrote previously and proves that she is versatile as a writer. Her characters are very well-imagined with Briar Wilkes carrying decades of emotional baggage that make her cautiously settled into her ways and her son Ezekiel behaves so much like nearly every teenage boy that it’s a wonder he doesn’t feel like a stereotype.
The rest of the people in the story are a hodge podge of strange people who have been living in the poisoned remnants of Seattle for seventeen years amidst teeming hordes of undead, air pirates and crime lords.
Even reading the description that I’ve written here makes me think I should have loved this book more than I did. I found it to be a good adventure story with an unusual protagonist and interesting characters. It never quite grabbed on to me. It seemed like the introspective moments lasted just a little too long. The coincidences added up a little too nicely. The descriptions lingered a little too much.
All together this is a fun adventure story. It has an intricate backstory to fill out the world and has great characters that come to life on every page. If you can deal with the occasionally long winded descriptions then this is a fun book that could very easily have been marketed to younger readers.