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The Boneshaker by Kate Milford

Natalie Minks grew up surrounded by strange tales about her town near the crossroads, and everyone knows that odd things happen at crossroads.  Natalie’s father was the bicycle mechanic in town and he also worked on the new cars like the one for the town’s doctor.  Natalie too loved machines, especially automatons.  She was also trying to master riding a strange bicycle that her father rebuilt for her, but embarrassingly enough, she simply couldn’t ride the thing at all.  The town too was used to weird things happening, but no one was prepared for the day when Dr. Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show came to town bringing all manner of weird medicinal remedies and even machines that never stopped running, even though Natalie knew that was impossible.  As Natalie slowly discovers the mystery of the Medicine Show, readers will be drawn into this book that is just as intricate and mesmerizing as the show itself.

Milford has created a unique book here with its amazing mixture of historical fiction, fantasy and horror.  The steampunk elements of the book keep it current and hip, but there is far more going on here than automaton.  It is a story filled with the horror of demons on the Devil himself.  The book’s pacing adds to the dynamic nature with leisurely sections leading into almost frantic pacing.  It is a book that lures one in, offers one book and then changes, amazingly into another sort of book instead.  It is a book that blazes and burns against the setting of a small town in 1913.

Natalie is a great heroine, who really solves the mystery on her own without the help of the grown ups and also saves the town all on her own.  It is a celebration of girls who are smart, savvy and who question authority. 

This gripping tale offers so many twists that one is never sure exactly where the book is headed.  Guaranteed to thrill, it is one great flying ride of a read.  Appropriate for ages 12-15.

Reviewed from library copy.

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