The Boneshaker
  • The Boneshaker
  • The Boneshaker

The Boneshaker

4.1 12
by Kate Milford, Andrea Offermann
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1913, Milford's debut is a sure-footed, slow-burning thriller. Feisty 13-year-old Natalie has grown up in a small Missouri town located near a mysterious crossroads, listening to the local myths about it that her mother shares. When Dr. Limberleg opens the Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show, the townspeople (afraid of catching the neighboring town's flu) take to his products and team, who promote phrenology, hydrotherapy, magnetism, and amber therapy. Mechanically minded Natalie, however, is determined to get through the smoke and mirrors, and she finds that Dr. Limberleg's cures come with strings attached. "Most people are much older when they discover their world isn't the place they thought it was," he warns. "By then... sometimes... it's too late." The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered through the heavy curtains, startling shapes began to resolve themselves into familiar objects. Seeing them clearly didn't make her like them any better"). Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–up. (May)
From the Publisher
A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

"Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913...Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between."—Booklist, starred review

"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered through the heavy curtains, startling shapes began to resolve themselves into familiar objects. Seeing them clearly didn't make her like them any better")."—Publishers Weekly

"This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil."—Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
The year is 1913, and the small town of Arcane, Missouri has a strange feeling to it. Located near the crossroads of an abandoned and crumbling town, Arcane has a rich oral lore concerning its eccentric townsfolk and mystifying events. Thirteen-year-old Natalie cannot shake the ominous feeling that something big is about to happen in her town. Around certain people, strange thoughts about the Devil and hazy visions flit around Natalie's mind. When the creepy huckster Dr. Jake Limberleg shows up with his traveling medicine show, Natalie's spells increase. Though they share an interest in automatons, or small machines that move on their own when wound, a suspicious Natalie takes an immediate dislike to Limberleg and sets about spying on him. As her mother continues to tell Natalie stories of the town's past, her investigations begin to reveal the evil that has set up shop in Arcane. The more stories Natalie hears, the more the mysteries of Arcane seem impossible and incomprehensible. When she learns what Limberleg is really selling and who he is working for, she must work quickly to save her town before it is too late. The sinister undertones of this thriller are understated enough to leave readers in a constant state of unease, even when it is not readily apparent why. Much of the pieces of the puzzle are put together through remembered stories and legends, an effective way to move the densely packed story along without slowing it down. Though Arcane teems with unusual and odd characters, none stand out more than Natalie herself. Intelligent, curious, and brave, Natalie plays the main role in unraveling the mystery in Arcane and easily carries the story. Pen and ink line drawings add chills to the gothic-feeling story. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Natalie Minks, 13, likes machines—the way they make sense, the way all the gears and cogs fit together to make something happen. When Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show stops in at her father's bicycle repair shop because a wagon wheel has fallen off and disappeared, Natalie knows that the man is not meant to fit into the machinery of her life. Her ailing mother has told her stories of bargains made with the Devil, and of besting wickedness by looking it right in the face. Limberleg has a collection of clockwork figures that work without being wound up and never seem to run down. When Natalie begins to have inexplicable visions of the malevolent forces facing Arcane, MO, she isn't convinced that she is equipped to fight the evil at hand. Soon almost everyone is taken in by Limberleg's promises of miraculous healing and snake-oil cures, and it becomes clear to Natalie that she is their only hope of survival. Enhanced by full-page drawings, this intricate story, set in the early 20th century, unfolds with the almost audible click of puzzle pieces coming together. In the gothic tradition of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (S & S, 1962), The Boneshaker will earn itself a place in the annals of stories about children and the struggle between good and evil.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Kirkus Reviews
In 1913 Arcane, Mo., 13-year-old Natalie Minks loves mechanical things, and her father's bicycle-repair shop is the perfect place to tinker. Naturally curious, she is intrigued when a medicine show comes to town with promises of healing potions and an array of unusual machines. Folks in town are skeptical of "snake oil salesmen," but Natalie suspects that the strangers are more sinister than mere con artists. At the same time, she experiences visions that may be connected to the town's history and these mysterious travelers. These visions heighten her fears that her family and town are in danger from unresolved deals made with the Devil himself. This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil. (Historical fantasy. 10 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547241876
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/24/2010
Pages:
372
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

"Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913...Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between."—Booklist, starred review

"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered through the heavy curtains, startling shapes began to resolve themselves into familiar objects. Seeing them clearly didn't make her like them any better")."—Publishers Weekly

"This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil."—Kirkus Reviews

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Meet the Author

Kate Milford is the author of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, has written for stage and screen, and is a regular travel columnist for the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit www.clockworkfoundry.com.


Andrea Offermann attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and now lives in Hamburg, Germany. Her illustrations for The Boneshaker marked her U.S. publishing debut. To find out more about Andrea and her work, please visit www.andreaoffermann.com.

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The Boneshaker 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
K_malinczak More than 1 year ago
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 stuff 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest books ever written cant wait for my copies of the broken lands and the kairos mechansim
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome Book :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Strange things can happen at a crossroads. If a town is near that crossroads, well, strange things can happen there too. Arcane, Missouri is filled with strange stories about the town and the crossroads. Just ask Natalie Minks. She might only be thirteen, but she already knows all about the strange goings on at the crossroads thanks to her excellent storyteller (and terrible cook) mother. As much as Natalie loves a good story, she loves machines and gears more. Her father is an expert bicycle mechanic and Natalie is learning too--it's 1913 after all and machines are popping up everywhere. Even, it turns out, in traveling bands of snake oil salesmen. Doctor Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show promises entertainment, information, and a cure for any and all ailments. Natalie is enchanted by all of the bicycles and automata the show brings along with its tents and patent medicines. But she can't shake the nagging feeling that something is wrong, horribly wrong, with the medicine show and its Paragons of Science. Natalie will have to get to the bottom of an age-old bargain, tame the fastest bicycle in the world, cash in a dangerous favor, and ask a lot of costly questions. All before the medicine show can take Arcane for everything it's worth in The Boneshaker (2010) by Kate Milford with illustrations by Andrea Offermann.* The Boneshaker is Milford's first novel. The Boneshaker tackles a lot of narrative ground with unexplained visions, mysterious automatons, strange bargains, and a whole town's secrets. The ending of the story leaves a lot up in the air with Natalie's future and even her place in the town. The narrative also takes a lot of time to tie things together and explain details of the lore surrounding Arcane as well as to explain certain things Natalie begins to learn in the story. The premise is interesting and Natalie is a great protagonist but the whole package was not quite as well-realized (or resolved) as it could have been. That said, Milford writes like a natural storyteller. The opening pages of this story draw readers in with prose that sounds like a traditional folk tale and a setting that immediately evokes the era and feel of a midwestern town at the turn of the last century. Everything about The Boneshaker is charming from Natalie and her cantankerous bicycle to the vivid illustrations by Offermann that bring Natalie's world to life. This story is well-written and will find many fans in readers of fantasies and historical novels alike. *The Boneshaker is not to be confused by a similarly titled but completely different book by Cherie Priest called Boneshaker. Possible Pairings: Plain Kate by Erin Bow, The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi, Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale, Holes by Louis Sachar, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
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BexBoox More than 1 year ago
Arcane, Missouri is at a crossroads where if Natalie Minks's mother is correct, a local musician fought the Devil for his soul. The town's aptly named, because odd things happen there--including the left front wheel of any vehicle coming through getting wrecked. Our heroine, Natalie Minks, is a junior grease monkey fascinated with all things mechanical and in particular the Wright Brothers recent attempts at flight. She works with her Dad in his garage and is building an automata (mechanical model) of the Wright Brothers plane. When a mysterious medicine show arrives in town, Natalie's suspicious. She has a right to be. Dr. Limberleg's got some kind of power. He can make her automata move without the key. He can cure any ail, but will that cure last? When Natalie's family is preoccupied with her mom's illness, she sets out to find out about the medicine show and realizes it's up to her to save the town. Kate Mitford does an amazing job of crafting deep characters with fascinating twists. Paired with Andrea Offerman's deft illustrations, The Boneshaker's not just a book you want to read--it's a keeper. Rebecca Kyle, May 2010
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
Natalie's father built her the world's fastest bicycle. Trouble is, she can't ride it. Old Man Tom Guyot tells her all she needs a little more confidence. Then the mysterious Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show stops at the crossroads outside of town, and all of the residents of Arcane, Missouri is altered. Natalie feels a great shift in her world, but doesn't know what to do about it. Her mother is sick, her family is falling apart, and she doesn't trust the newcomers one bit. In a matter of mere days, Natalie will not only have to learn to ride her fancy bike, but will also have to figure out how to save her family, friends, and life as she knows it from impending doom. The Boneshaker moved along at perfect story-telling pace. I loved the folk tales that popped up within the plot, as part of Arcane's history. Every small town has those stories that get passed down from generation to generation, and I got pleasure out of reading about Tom Guyot. Milford does an incredible job of describing every detail- of painting a beautiful picture of what Natalie is seeing, without bogging down the reader. An equally creepy and inspiring story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.