I need to quit my job and just spend all day reading books recommended to me by book bloggers. In all seriousness though, I borrowed The Boneshaker by Kate Milford from the library after reading a Book Smugglers review and y’all, my trust was totally validated with a most excellent reading experience. The Boneshaker by Kate Milford encompasses many elements that I love to encounter in reading. There’s a small town, magic, pictures, something sinister, historical fantasy and a courageous young girl.
Natalie Minks is the aforementioned courageous young girl. She lives in the small town of Arcane, Missouri. Arcane sits at a crossroads — travelers avoid it or go through as quickly as possible. Set in 1915, Natalie is enamored with the Wright Brothers who invented the first airplane. She’s also trying to learn to ride her custom made bicycle, called a bone shaker. In all, Natalie lives a rather average life with her family, her dad a fantastic mechanic and her mom who tells the most amazing stories, plus her brother. All of this changes when Jake Limberleg and the traveling medicine show come to town. Natalie can sense something sinister about the show. Will she have the courage to look that evil in the eye?!
Friends, I want to hug The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. It’s middle grade but not at all written down. It feels very much like a classic. There’s this real sense of grand story between the pages — I’m not sure how to describe it exactly, except to say that I will likely end up reading again to parse out the deeper meaning. I mean, the book starts off really slow, but I got so absorbed in the prose and atmosphere that by the time action happens, I was heavily invested. Maybe that’s what I am trying to say, that the world building is very, very well done, you get such a sense of place and story with The Boneshaker.
I thought the pen and ink drawings by Andrea Offermann really enhanced The Boneshaker. It made the story feel more authentic, like something kids reading in 1914 would see. Plus there’s an astonishing level of detail to the drawing. I definitely paused at each picture and often turned back to reexamine them after reading the bits of plot that go with the pictures. And honestly, it’s really cool having the visual to go with the book.
Do you like historical fantasy? Set in middle America? Are you okay with a story taking time to build itself? Do you like folklore and brave young ladies? Are you a patient reader? If you answered yes to all of the questions then I think you’ll like The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, but if you answer no, then perhaps this would not be the most satisfying read for you.
Disclosure: Borrowed from the local library.
Other reviews of The Boneshaker by Kate Milford:
Great Imaginations – “The imagery in this book was terrific”
The Book Smugglers – “Choice is at the heart of this fantastic novel.”
FYI as of writing this, 8/13/12, The Boneshaker is $1.99 on Kindle.