the guardian Tue 13 November 2012
Briar Wilkes's father may be something of a saint to the criminal underclass living in this steampunk version of 1880s Seattle, but she can never escape the fact that her late husband is the man who brought the deadly Blight to the city, leading to it being sealed away from the rest of the world by a 200ft-high wall. Fifteen years before this story is set, Dr Leviticus Blue built his Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine to exploit the veins of gold buried deep beneath the rock and ice. Instead of mining for gold, he dug through the foundations of four of Seattle's gold-rich banks, intent on robbery, and unwittingly released a deadly gas that devastated the city. Now, Briar and Blue's 15-year-old son Zeke has run away to the walled city, bent on uncovering the truth behind the rumours that have gathered around his family. The only person who cares enough to rescue him is his mother, but to do so, she must confront both the horrors of the ruined city and the demons of her past, which she does with gusto in this gloriously vivid romp.