Cherie Priest is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. After her wonderful Boneshaker, I was left wanting more. Thankfully, we have Clementine. This new book is set in the same world as Boneshaker, and readers of Boneshaker should remember Clementine, the former warcraft airship, conscripted by a former slave to aid in his piracy.
The book alternates between Croggon Beauregard Hainey, the escaped slave and current pirate, and Maria Isabella Boyd, former Confederate spy and current employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency employed by the Union. Boyd has been sent to make sure that the Clementine makes its way to Kansas City. Hainey wants the Clementine back and will stop at nothing to get it.
Boyd and Hainey want different things and the Clementine is the crux between them. Obviously they cannot both succeed. The way that Priest handles this conflict is brilliant. This book is a straight-up spy thriller, and it’s a blast to read.
For those of you who read Boneshaker: there are no zombies in Clementine. Still, this world that Priest has crafted is exceptionally well done, and it’s easy to fall into pace with her writing and just get lost in the story. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Boneshaker, which contains all sorts of fantastical and science fictional elements. Clementine contains none of those things; it’s eerily plausible. The characters, the actions, the settings, feel so real and tangible that at times I wanted to do some research about Civil War era airships.
You needn’t have read Boneshaker to enjoy Clementine. The story stands on its own. But, if you have read Boneshaker, this new book will be like returning to a favorite restaurant for another excellent meal.
I can only hope that Priest isn’t done with this world yet. Clementine is available in a trade hardcover edition from Subterranean Press now and will be available in trade paperback next year.
John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award winning Electric Velocipede.