Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

We’re told to never judge a book by its cover, but we often do anyhow. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker was a book I judged by the cover: it had one of the first self-consciously steampunk covers, depicting the heroine wearing brass goggles, their lenses reflecting airships in flight. It veritably screamed steampunk. Scott Westerfeld’s cover blurb said the book was “made of irresistible,” while Mike Mignola quipped it was a mash-up of Jules Verne and George Romero. There was no steampunk book released with more hype in 2009 than Boneshaker, and steampunk enthusiasts, myself among them, placed it at the top of their “to be read” pile. Perhaps I was the victim of ridiculously high expectations resulting from the gorgeous cover and the pre-release hype, as I was ultimately underwhelmed. I wondered if I’d missed something. After all, many readers loved it. It was nominated for several prestigious SF awards. It won a Locus for best SF novel. At that point, I was convinced I’d missed something, and vowed to let Wil Wheaton and Kate Reading read it to me on audiobook at my earliest convenience. I needed another experience of it, since I’d speculated in my review of Boneshaker that since, “Priest still has the hands-down best short description of steampunk in existence, I’m hopeful she may yet write the hands-down best-steampunk-with-intention novel.”

My “earliest convenience” to revisit Boneshaker is yet to arrive, but I’m not sure it matters anymore: Cherie Priest’s Dreadnought just tied Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan for my “best-self-conscious-work-of-steampunk.”

Click here to read the rest of the review at Tor.com!


  1. I too was less-than-thrilled by Boneshaker, but I've also resolved to give it another chance, once this semester's over.

    I think Mercy Lynch is a much more sympathetic protagonist than Briar Wilkes, and I liked Dreadnought quite a lot, actually. The "wheezers" are actively creepy, and though I think Priest could have done more with Malvern Purdue (seriously, the mad scientist tropes rang a little hollowly for me), it was a ripping good yarn.


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