The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest – review

By on November 12, 2012

Publisher’s Description:

Rector “Wreck ’em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out of the orphanage.
And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.
The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicables.”
In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall — just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there’s gold to be found in the city and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

What I expected:  Once again, I read this one without having perused the description because I had read the others in the series and enjoyed them and figured that I’d like this one, too.  If I had read the description, I may never have read it at all – I don’t like unlikeable main characters, and drug dealers seem to fall into that category for me.  So I expected another adventure-filled steampunk tale with a different main character, somehow connected to the others already mentioned in previous episodes.

What I got:  I definitely got a steampunk story with adventure – though this time the adventure all happens in one small area, much like the first of this series.  I also got an unlikeable main character that I didn’t mind too much, as he sort of grows on  you while reading.

What I liked:  I liked that, again, the main character is someone new and/or different than the others in the series, affording me as the reader differing views of the characters we’ve read about previously.  This also gives us a way to enjoy the same scenery and worldbuilding without being stuck on one character’s adventures.

What I did not:  I wasn’t fond of Wreck.  He did grow on me a bit, but his self-interest just felt too steeped into his soul for me to like him.  Self-interest is way too common in my daily real life, so I enjoy the fantasy of heroism and people being nice to others and doing good things just to do them, etc.  I also found the inexplicables portion of the tale to be a little, erm, inexplicable.  [There are possible mild spoilers in the next few lines so please be aware and avoid if you like!]  I can quite understand the idea of the gas creating natural mutations in animals, and I can certainly get behind the use of a mythical (or is it?) creature to play the mutation game with, but it felt a bit odd.  [End spoilers.]  Also, the name is overly complicated.  A populace of outcasts and scofflaws coming across a strange and monstrous entity are going to call it an inexplicable?  Really?  Or will they call it a monster?  Or a creature?  Or something a bit more simple and easy and normal?  It felt like the author was working too hard to make something mysterious.  I was also a little confused as to why that name was used for the title; presumably there was some sort of symbolic reference to something else, but I’m a bit dim at best, and that all passed right over my head.

Cover Talk:  I quite like the cover.  It isn’t splashy or overdone but still conveys the overall atmosphere of the story in an artistically competent manner.  It isn’t one I’d desire to hang on my wall as art in and of itself, but I feel it gets the job done.

Recommended?:  Absolutely.  Every one of the books of this series can be read as a standalone.  They all have different protagonists, though naturally there are recurring secondary characters, and previous protagonists become secondary later in the series.  They are also, this latest one included, cracking good reads.  Each one a page turning adventure that includes science, nature, greed, human fallibility, and humor.

About amberdrake


This looks like an awesome book and I might have to pick it up! I'm finishing up a pretty great book now called "Three Fugitives" by Nat Howler, it's part of the Six Stones Trilogy. You can check out him and the book on the website Thanks for the review and suggestion!