All too often it seems as if steampunk authors stick to one location and one setting: a Victorian era European city. Think cobblestones and cold fog with women in full hoop skirts and men in three piece suits. It was refreshing to read a steampunk novel that took place—in both time and location—so far from the tried and true that I tip my proverbial hat to the author! “Bodacious Creed” is very much a western set in the early days of America, just after the Civil War, where California’s city of Santa Cruz could be considered very much a wild west. The feel of a railroad town that survives mainly from ranching, factories, the dying gold rush, and brothels is superbly well crafted and makes for a believable setting for this steampunk novel. But I don’t know if I’d really consider this a zombie book.
“Bodacious Creed” is, at its core, not about the law man who gets gunned down and then brought back to life, but the woman who brings him back. Sure, the plot is to stop an underground crime syndicate that smuggles technology, that is also harboring a bloodthirsty criminal, and how Creed and his bounty hunter “friend” bring justice to Santa Cruz, but this is very much Anna’s story. So much of the book is about her, her technology, her journey from orphan to brothel worker, to madam, to renowned tinker, that she is the real back bone of the story in my opinion. She’s also the motivating factor for many of the other male characters, so there’s that, too. This is a book that also asks the question of what is science’s responsibility to advancement, and what does it mean to go “too far”? It’s an interesting premise to be sure, so why do I feel so… meh about the book?
Ultimately, there were a few things that just kept me from devouring this book. Some of them are very small such as: the author provides a bunch of dates, times, and locations like street names. Each time I read those, I paused thinking it’d be something vital, when it’s not outside of those who live in modern day Santa Cruz who maybe want to visit some of the locations. It made the story a little clunky, at least to me. Some of my issues were medium sized: like the fact that every woman in the book is either a prostitute, or a fanatic religious person. I get it was meant to highlight the western feel, but given Anna is arguably the smartest person in the book, it was a little sad that she couldn’t own her brain as much as she did her body and it kept me from really connecting with her, or anyone else for that matter. But some were bigger, which ultimately led to the ambivalent feelings I have: the zombies aren’t what I’d consider to be zombies?
I really want to avoid spoilers, but given the synopsis says Creed is brought back from the dead and retains his mind and wants to go after those who killed him, you can kind of get what kind of creature the “zombie” is supposed to be. All the things I’ve come to associate with the classic zombie lore just isn’t really there. And I don’t just mean the basic stuff that things like “The Walking Dead” have popularized on TV, though there is that, but the way they are brought back and stay “alive” is also very not zombie like? Sorry, I’m really trying to avoid spoilers because my feelings are so personal that I don’t want to scare people away from this book. It’s a solid read with a great atmosphere, I was just expecting something different when it came to the villains and monsters.
There were some questions I felt were left hanging in terms of plot, but I can’t talk about them due to spoilers, but again, that’s just my opinion. I will say that this book has a lot of four letter words in it—there’s some moments of gore but not enough to make it a thing in my opinion—so if you don’t like reading curse words this may be a harder read for you. That being said, if you want a unique take on a steampunk novel, give “Bodacious Creed” a try! But if you want something more like a traditional zombie story, you may want to mosey on down to another book. I wish I had connected with the characters more, because I really did feel like I was in a western setting, but I just couldn’t get there, though I would be interested to see where Creed and Anna’s story leads in later books. But for now, this is a very solid 3 stars for me and thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review!
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