Advance Book Review: Dead Reckoning, a steampunk zombie western

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

Publication Date: June 05, 2012

What do you get when you mix a western, a zombie infestation, and a dash of steampunk? A whole lot of YA fun.

Jett Gallatin is a sharpshooter and gambler traveling across the wild west–he is also a lie, a name made up and used by a young woman searching for a brother who disappeared at the end of the Civil War. White Fox is an army scout, investigating the reason why thriving towns are becoming ghost towns overnight, all their people disappeared without a trace. And Honoria Gibbons is an unconventional young woman riding a gears-and-steam machine across the prairie, out to prove that science can explain any phenomena.

But when a zombie horde marches across their paths and force them to band together to survive, even Jett’s tenacity, White Fox’s experience, and Gibbons’ mythbuster approach to life might not be enough to get them through the night.

Together, authors Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill pack a wallop. The duo has written six awesome books in the Bedlam Bard series in the Elves on the Road universe (elves, race cars, and street music) and two YA  novels in the Shadow Grail series (magic academy). With Dead Reckoning, we get a crazy Cowboys-vs-Aliens style adventure story and three characters who’re accidentally thrown together into a plot-full of undead.

One canary gets shoved off the perch, however, for how the characters insisted on sticking to their stereotypes (skeptical scientist is skeptical, independent woman is independent, strong-and-silent guy is strong and silent…), and another one for slightly irregular pacing and a few slowdowns I had to power through. It rushed in the places where I wanted more and gave me more in the places I wanted rushed.

But the good elements stand out as strongly; Dead Reckoning has a great sense of the time period–something I have always loved in Lackey’s writing and that wonderful willingness to mix and blend the best elements of widely disparate genres. Zombies, spiritualists, a dash of chemistry, religious cults, a loyal horse…it’s all there. This is a solid pick for young teens, with its fun adventure, light hints of romance potential, and the growth of strong friendship.

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Complimentary copy courtesy of
Netgalley and Bloomsbury Books.

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