Thirteen-year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata—self-operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his traveling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp and an uncanny ability to make Natalie’s half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is a bit off. Her uneasiness leads her to investigate the intricate maze of the medicine show, where she discovers a horrible truth and realizes that only she has the power to set things right.
Set in 1914, The Boneshaker is a gripping, richly textured novel about family, community, courage, and looking evil directly in the face in order to conquer it.
I should’ve reviewed this much sooner, but I’ve been super busy and have gotten a little behind on my reviews. But I am so catching up now and I’m starting with The Boneshaker.
If you read any of my status updates on twitter, you will know that I wasn’t into this book at the very beginning. The writing was great from the start, but there was no plot to be heard of. I stuck with it though, because I got this in a Goodreads giveaway and I hate to not finish those books. I’m glad I did though, because once the story picked up, I thought it was fabulous. The plot was super-quirky and it reminded me of Alice In Wonderland a bit. The two are totally unrelated, but I guess in the ways that the book gave off a very creepy vibe even though it was a children’s novel. I thought it was downright scary in a few places and it had me thinking about how if this was ever turned into a movie, it would simply have to be directed by Tim Burton. By the way, Big Fish was on television today. I love that movie.
So this medicine show rolls into town and the townspeople literally eat this shit up. Even Natalie’s parents and brother. But not Natalie. She thinks that something is wrong with these crazy kooks from the start. And she would turn out to be right. I can’t tell you why without revealing spoilers, but I can just say that these medicine peddlers are seriously messed up and they have this little dancing doll with them that does a high-wire act and that totally messed with my head. I never realized how afraid of dolls I was. Keep the creepy-faced dolls away from me in the future. I thought for sure I was going to have nightmares over this.
The imagery in this book was terrific and I really loved the author’s way of portraying the medicine show through the use of her descriptive passages. It was beautiful. She left a lot to the imagination and did a great job capturing the essence of the town and the layout of the medicine show.
All in all, I thought this book was pretty fantastic and I’m glad I own a signed copy. I won’t be giving this one away anytime soon and I think it’s a great addition to the Steampunk genre. It was a debut novel for this author too. And it honestly felt like she had been writing forever. I haven’t been impressed with any of the middle-grade novels I’ve been reading lately and I finally found one I enjoyed. Thank goodness.