The Inexplicables – Clockwork Century #4 – Cherie Priest
Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.
And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.
The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicables.”
In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall — just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there’s gold to be found in the city and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.
In ‘The Inexplicables’, the fourth book in the Clockwork Century series, Priest takes us back to where it all started: Seattle. As with all the other books we get another new point of view, though he might be familiar if you’ve read the first book ‘Boneshaker’. Rector Sherman is a young guy who has lived his whole live in an orphanage in the outskirts of Seattle. He was found as a toddler after the Boneshaker tore the city apart. When he got older he started dealing the yellow sap and later got addicted to it. Why might he be familiar? He was Zeke Wilkes friend in the first book. He was the one who told him how to get in to the city and he has been wrecked with guilt ever since Zeke and his mother failed to return. He’s convinced they are both dead, and though he doesn’t really care for Zeke’s mom, he does care (though he wouldn’t admit it) for Zeke. He is visited by a ‘ghost’ Zeke, that seems to condemn him for leading him in to the city to die. So when Rector gets kicked out of the orphanage on his 18th birthday he decides to venture in to the city. Not only to find Zeke’s body, but also because the center of the yellow sap ‘empire’ is inside the walls.
As readers of the series might know, Rector was in for quite a surprise, because Zeke is very much alive. When Rector first enters the city he is chased by a huge creature, a thinking creature. People familiar with the rotters will know that no rotter has even one brain cell left, so what was that creature? Huey has seen it too and although he doesn’t really know what to make of it, he’s sure it isn’t a rotter. Where did it come from? Soon enough they find out and what they discover can change their future forever if they don’t act quickly.
I enjoyed this 4th book in the series, but it was in a different way than the other books. Where the last two books had very strong female characters that really brought the story to life, the main character in this book is a complaining drug addict who’s a bit too full of himself. This way we get a very different voice than the previous books, which was both refreshing but also a bit of an adaptation.
Aside from this the book was yet again very well written. I like Priest’s writing style, it’s so easy to completely get lost in the story and somehow believe it all really happened.
The monster chasing Rector in the beginning of the novel was really exhilarating and the rest of the book doesn’t let you down on the action part. We get some really cool scenes, that maybe aren’t that direct as the previous book, but are equally as satisfying.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when we found out what the “monster” really was. I had expected something amazing and exciting, and though it was a good choice in the end, it was a bit of a letdown for me. What I do applaud about this storyline was the way the characters handled it. I hadn’t expected Priest to resolve the storyline like that, but it worked really well and was actually the best solution.
The epilogue gave us something nice to look forward to in the next book, that builds on the story of the 2nd book, the one with the Dreadnought train.
Another good book in this wonderful alternate, steampunk America, with a lot of the familiar characters and some new, fascinating ones. I wouldn’t say it was the best in the series, but it was definitely an interesting addition.