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Book Review: The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

  • Method of Obtaining: My copy was provided by the publisher.
  • Published by:  Tor Books
  • Release Date:  011.13.2012

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Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.

And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.

The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicables.”

In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall — just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there’s gold to be found in the city and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

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My Review:

If there is a series that I am an evangelist for, it’s Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century books.  The moment any friend expresses an interest, passing or intent, the first word out of my mouth is Boneshaker.  I have been reading Priest’s books since Boneshaker was released and while some are stronger than others, each of them is enough to fan my addiction to her writing to an even higher level.  The Inexplicables is no different.

Imagine my delight when I began reading and was immediately transported back to the world of Zeke and Boneshaker.  I knew I recognized the name of Rector “Wreck-em” Sherman and soon it became apparent why.  I may or may not have giggled a bit as I dove back into the dangerous world of Seattle and read about names that I not only know, but know intimately from their stories in the previous novels.  It felt like I was greeting old friends.

I have a habit of putting books by favorite authors aside until they meet one of two criteria.  1. That they have another book out that I can put in the bank for the perfect day, or 2. that I just can’t hold off and desperately need a fix.  Reading The Inexplicables met both of those criteria – but mostly when I saw that Fiddlehead was being released (and it’s the final installment, y’all – I’m heartbroken) I knew it was time to dive in.

Reading the books of The Clockwork Century is an experience.  The pages are soft, the typeface is sepia, there is artwork at each chapterhead and the books are pleasant to hold in the hand.  And then there’s the story.  Rector’s story in The Inexplicables is one of intrigue, addiction, reaching the bottom and climbing up, forming friendships and maintaining them, independence, and finally heroism.  There’s so much action, a touch of romance that had me laughing out loud with delight, and – of course – loads upon loads of steampunk goodness.

I am fairly certain that Priest has infused her books with her own fictional sap because that’s how addicted I’ve become to this world.  I dread saying goodbye to it with Fiddlehead, but in the meantime I’ll continue to crusade for it and bask in the non-fatal, totally normal (right?) afterglow of having read a book by one of my favorite authors.

Check out what these bloggers had to say! 

Val’s Random Comments | Fear My Blog | Wired


Ganymede by Cherie Priest

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Reason for Reading:
  • Cherie Priest is the Queen of Steampunk authors, in my own opinion. 

I also  recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

My Review:

Clementine, by Cherie Priest, is one of my favorite of the Clockwork Century books.  So with that said, bringing the same characters back that kicked butt in Clementine for Ganymede pushed this book up into a frontrunner spot before I even began to read it.

It didn’t have to stay in that spot when I started reading it – but it held it by its own merit, because y’all, this book kicked butt.  Serious butt.  Seriously – submarines, zombies, tough girls fighting off zombies – I honestly think this is the best book of the Clockwork Century books yet.  So much action, it had me fist-pumping mere pages into the story and the classy touch of romance only helped matters – it was just enough.

I admire Cherie Priest so much.  She has such a distinctive, unique way of writing.  I love the layout of these books, the sepia ink, the fantastic covers, the awesome re-writing of history (making it much more cool).  There is so much style in each of her stories, and I think Ganymede really shows that style off.  I’ve been following each release of these books since reading Boneshaker, and anxiously hoarding them on my shelves – loaning them out only when I’m sure I’ll get them back in the same condition.

Ms. Priest, you have one loyal fan here, and you’ve above and beyond earned that loyalty.  I cannot wait for the next release!

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Fantasy Book Critic

Clementine by Cherie Priest

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Reason for Reading:
  • Cherie Priest is the Steampunk Queen. The end.

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Summary from GoodReads:

Maria Isabella Boyd’s success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty…she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials—essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.

My Review:

I’m so in love with Cherie Priests writing.  Clementine was, I think, one of the best of the bunch when it comes to the Clockwork Century novels.  I loved, loved, loved this book.  The adventure, the characters, the dirigibles, the tension and suspense – it had it all in spades and it was such a short little story!  Too short!

Maria is, hands down, one of my favorite women out of all the books I’ve read this year.  Spunky, independent, brash, smart and witty, she made me laugh and cheer her on as she set off to capture the irrepressible Captain Heaney.  Between both characters, Priest managed to spotlight both women and African-Americans in a way that did both proud.

Because, y’all, Captain Heaney is a smart, well-thought-out, very developed character that had me rooting for him from the first moment he stepped onto the page.  I couldn’t make up my mind which side I wanted to be on, because I thought it was going to come down to that!  And perhaps it did… so I guess you ought to read the book and find out.

I’d been wanting to get my hands on a hard copy of Clementine, but finally had to give up seeing as a limited number had been printed, but thankfully it is available on the Kindle.  The only part about this book that I do not like though is not being able to proudly place it next to my other Clockwork Century novels.  The cover is amazing, the story even better and I cannot wait to get lost in the next book in the series, Ganymede.


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King of the Nerds

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

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Reason(s) for Reading:
  • Big fan of Cherie Priest – I totally blame Boneshaker.
  • How can you go wrong with a book printed with sepia ink?
I  also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.

Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.

What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?

Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.

My Review:

In my opinion, Cherie Priest is the reigning queen author of Steampunk novels, and Dreadnought is a solid example of why.  It’s hard to explain Steampunk to someone who doesn’t already know what it is – I mean, you can bring Verne into the picture and then try to bring the word “mash-up” into the mix (citing Glee for those who tend to not read much) and then finish off with a flourish of “something like that” and hope that they get it… or you can just hand over a copy of Boneshaker and tell them to read it.

Sure, the historical aspects have been twisted and pulled a bit – but these aren’t historical fiction novels (unless your world actually does contain zombies).  The thing about Cherie Priest’s books are – even though you know they aren’t historically accurate, the manner in which she writes them makes you doubt that more than once as you are reading the story.  In Dreadnought, there are many scenes in which Mercy is treating soldiers, in which relationships are being developed between the North and the South on the Dreadnought itself (which alone is.. man, so awesome to read about), and it seems plausible that these things did, in fact, happen.  Another thing that helps is the way that Priest implements things such as dirigibles and zombies without batting an eye at how unusual they really are.  Everything is incorporated into the story in such a matter-of-fact way that if you, the reader, seems to bat an eyelash at it, you would be the one out of the ordinary.

Mercy Lynch’s journey from Virginia to Seattle, Washington is a fun, romping good time.  There’s adventure, there’s flying vehicles, there’s massive trains and there’s zombies… and it all makes perfect sense.  Boneshaker and Dreadnought are two shining examples of just how great Steampunk books can be, and I cannot wait to see what Cherie Priest comes up with next.

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