Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rereading Boneshaker

The Boneshaker. Kate Milford. 2010. May 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 372 pages.

Strange things can happen at a crossroads. It might look like nothing but a place where two dusty roads meet, but a crossroads can be something more. A crossroads can be something special, a compass with arms reaching to places you might never find the way to again; places that might exist, or might have existed once, or might exist someday, depending on whether or not you decide to look for them.
But whatever else it might be, a crossroads is a place where you choose.


I have now read Kate Milford's The Boneshaker three times. (The first time was in July 2010, the second in December 2010). I can now truly say that this is indeed one of my favorite, favorite historical fantasy novels. Not that it's fully, completely fantasy. It is set in the real world, in a small American town in 1913. And many details do feel authentic for the time period. But. There are characters that have had showdowns with the devil himself. (Think The Devil Went Down To Georgia.) And there is something more--much more--to the traveling carnival that has come to town.

Almost everything from my original review still rings true:

Read this book. Now. Why? Because this book is so very, very good. It's one of those books where the moment you finish it, you want to start it all over again. You don't want it to be over. You want to keep experiencing it.

What did I love about this book? The characters, the story, the storytelling, the setting, the atmosphere, the descriptions. It was such an amazing blend of history, mystery, and fantasy. The Boneshaker is set in 1913, in Arcane, Missouri. This is a town that for whatever reason makes travelers uneasy. It's not a place most would stop and see for fun, for pleasure. Perhaps it's a little too close for comfort to the Old Village, the first settlement of the crossroads that was abandoned several generations before the novel opens. So while Arcane may not seem like much--at least to the outsider--it is home to our heroine, Natalie Minks. She's very smart, very curious. She likes to know how things work. She's fascinated by machines. And she loves spending time with her father who is a mechanic--a bicycle mechanic mostly, though he fixes anything with wheels for the most part.

Arcane doesn't see many strangers. But one day a stranger shows up in town--his wheel broke, you see--and this stranger is none other than Dr. Jake Limberleg. He has a medicine show. The full name is Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show. And while he's waiting for his wheel to be fixed--so he can go on his way, Arcane was not a planned stop by any means--he decides to go ahead and open up his show, his fair. There are a handful of people in the community who are skeptical about this man and his team of 'doctors' of 'experts.' Among these is Natalie. She may be the cleverest one of them all. She may be the only one able to solve this mystery. But can she do it in time?

The Boneshaker is so compelling. It had me from hello. The characters, the storytelling, the writing, I thought all of it was so well done. Kate Milford made me care about these characters, and she kept me hooked from start to finish.


Read The Boneshaker

  • If you like historical fiction, historical fantasy, historical mysteries
  • If you like stories with a bit of supernatural to them--not TOO much, just enough and no more
  • If you like strong heroines that are on their way to developing their full potential (Loved her resourcefulness, her curiosity, her courage, her determination)
  • If you love stories with well-developed, fascinating characters
  • If you love stories with atmosphere, with a strong setting,
  • If you love stories with mysteriously creepy traveling carnivals or medicine shows

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Kailana 10:51 AM  

I have had this out from the library, but I still haven't read it. I will have to get it again!

Unknown 11:24 AM  

Becky, this just made my whole week. Thank you so much.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP