Set in the same world as Boneshaker, this novel follows the journey of nurse Mercy Lynch from the wards of a Richmond hospital to distant Seattle. Her father, who abandoned his family when she was young, has been stricken, and once she decides she must go, nothing will stand in her way. Obstacles are plentiful: the Civil War has been raging unabated for twenty years and grows more terrible every day as technological progress fails to break the stalemate in the trenches; we have airships and armored trains and steampunk mecha tanks, but we have nothing close to peace. In the far West, a legion of Mexican soldiers has disappeared, and strange rumors of the walking dead are beginning to be heard. Mercy is a strong, competent, foul-mouthed young woman with iron nerves and a fierce determination to win through.
I am not convinced the zombies are strictly necessary, either here or in Boneshaker. Much of the book involves combat between trains, recalling Buster Keaton’s The General, and that’s a terrific idea, though I'm not sure the tactics used are ideal. I do wish Priest was not again opposing a Strong Heroine to an Evil Engineer. But I had a hell of a good time.