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Merrimon Book Reviews


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From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Boneshaker
The Boneshaker by Kate Milford
by Kate Milford

Thirteen year old Natalie Minks lives in Arcane, Missouri, a town near the crossroads in the early 1910s.  Strange things happen at crossroads and Arcane, Missouri is no exception.  Natalie Minks loves all things mechanical, from the automaton clockwork flyer her father is helping her build to the weirdly perfect bicycle, the boneshaker, her father created.  Natalie's life is all gears and yarns, machines and stories, each with their pieces finely integrated.  Natalie knows all the stories of her town just like she knows the insides of machines.  When Doctor Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine show comes to Arcane, Missouri,  Natalie knows something is not right.  Can she use her knowledge of machines and storytelling to figure out the mystery behind the show before it is too late?  Can she save her town from the evil that threatens to destroy it?

Kate Milford's debut historical fantasy THE BONESHAKER is a delight from start to finish.  The initial stories of Arcane's history, the old deserted village and Tom Guyot's encounter with the devil all build up an eerie atmosphere in which truth and fiction, real and not, are not easily discernible.  Within this atmosphere, the reader meets Natalie, a girl with imagination and a bit of daring but also a girl whom science and engineering fascinate.  No one else in the town seems to have the ominous feeling about the medicine show but as Natalie looks closer and closer, the more scary she finds Doctor Jake Limberleg and the men who follow him.  The pace quickens as the danger mounts until the thrilling edge of the seat twists at the end.  On one level, THE BONESHAKER is an exciting, eerie race to prevent a disaster.  On another level, THE BONESHAKER is an especially beautiful story of a daughter's growing independence and maturing appreciation of her family.   Both her mother and her father give her different skills and different doors with which to enter her adventure.  Just as the town's stories give a legacy to those who come afterwards, Natalie's parents give her a special legacy that makes her uniquely suited to solve the mysteries before her.   Scenes with her parents are poignant without being sappy.  Though historical fantasy with bit of a steampunk edge, THE BONESHAKER is also an imaginative coming of age story that honors both machine and the imagination, fantasy and history, storytelling and human relationships. 

THE BONESHAKER is a book that can be enjoyed by both young and old.  Some sensitive children might find the some of the details frightening but otherwise THE BONESHAKER will appeal to a wide audience from the scientifically-minded to the poetically imaginative.  The writing style itself is beautiful.  I highly recommend THE BONESHAKER to those adult readers who appreciate the beauty of a story well-told.  In the beauty of the intricate mechanics of the story, THE BONESHAKER exceeds many books marketed to adults.  Excellent black and white illustrations by Andrea Offermann add to the character of the story while still leaving room for a reader's imagination.  An excellent combination.

Publisher: Clarion Books (May 24, 2010)
Illustrator: Andrea Offermann

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Review Courtesy of Amazon Vine
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