A surprisingly intimate story about a mother and son in an alternative universe Seattle.  I loved their rough as guts relationship that is nevertheless built on a quiet respect for what each other puts up with.  The lead characters are written really well and believably – and what a relief to have a teen boy written like a teen boy without being a needlessly obnoxious stereotype.

The peripheral characters all had somewhat of a generic texture, but at least that texture felt like a turn of the century Seattle with applicable ethnic range.

The difficulty with this story is usual expectations from mainstream fantasy / sci fi, which tends towards the epic / space opera — being that the story should make some kind of grand sweeping statement about all humanity while solving major world dilemmas via assorted macguffins.  This is not that story; this is a story about a relatively ordinary-complex mother-son relationship amped up by zombies and deadly blight.  The end revelation is an intensely personal one for the small family, not a worldchanging one, and all it does is reveal more about the complexity of the husband-wife relationship which predates the story.  This tale could have been set in a range of high risk settings, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with the steampunk setting and it certainly adds a bit of relevatory interest along the way.

I liked it and will follow the series, but it wasn’t one of those stories which changed my world view.