Clementine by Cherie Priest
Author: Cherie Priest
Short Review: This sequel to Boneshaker follows Captain Croggon Hainey as he tracks and attempts to recover his airship, The Free Crow, from its captors. It also introduces Maria Isabella Boyd, a former Confederate spy turned Pinkerton, on her first assignment. It’s good, but not quite as good as Boneshaker.
Long Review: I’m a huge fan of this series, and found Boneshaker absolutely enthralling. This sequel follows Hainey, one of the more interesting minor characters from the first novel, and introduces Boyd, an intriguing character based on a historical figure. It follows an interesting dangling thread from that first novel, but to do so, it has to leave leave Seattle. The Seattle of Boneshaker was so inventive and layered that I had a hard time following the author away from it.
All whining aside, this is a very good audiobook. Priest is an excellent writer, and her attention to detail and excellent knowledge of American history make these books ring true, even with rather fantastic “alternate” content to deal with. The book is expertly read by Pearlman and Bevine, taking turns in Boyd’s and Hainey’s sections, respectfully, much as Reading and Wheaton did for the two main characters in Boneshaker. The switching perspective keeps the action moving along at a good clip while also elucidating two very different people.
Moreover, Priest tackles complex, layered questions of social justice in her books without clobbering the reader over the head. I’m always thrown when people address the Civil War or other momentous transitions in history without considering vital threads such as human rights, equality, changes in social mores, and the like. In this series, Priest is delving into questions of women’s rights, race relations, immigration, states vs. federal rights, property rights, international meddling in civil wars, medical ethics . . . the social and ethical questions she raises are manifold, and it’s the weaving of those questions into the fast-paced drama that really makes these books sing. This isn’t just fantasy. It’s a history lesson blending with an ethics class as well, and all of it makes these books worth returning to.