Fans of Priest’s Clockwork Century series will delight in another one of this talented author’s steampunk adventures. Priest has created a vividly rich world full of wonderful gadgets and steampunk trappings, but Rector falls short as a likable character and his motivations for exploring Seattle are not convincing.
It’s Rector “Wreck” Sherman’s 18th birthday, which means he’s outgrown the orphanage he spent his life in and must head out on his own into the Outskirts of Seattle. With no family and nothing holding him back, Wreck is determined to hop the wall that encloses what remains of Seattle and protects the rest of the world from the city’s deadly gas. Wreck is driven by not only a guilty conscience fueled by the ghost of his friend Zeke Wilkes, whom Wreck helped cross into the dangerous city, but also by a crippling drug addiction that Wreck hopes to satisfy once inside Seattle. However, when Wreck comes across a monstrous creature unlike any of the undead “rotters” infesting the city, his quest to conquer the creature reveals that Seattle’s residents have breached the wall in search of the gold they were promised years ago — and Wreck and his friends may have gotten themselves into more than they can handle. (TOR, Nov., 368 pp., $14.99)