Reviewed by Elizabeth Talbott

Josephine Early is the madame of a New Orleans bordello, known in more polite circles as a lady’s boarding house. She also conducts even more covert dealings as an informer and advocate for the United States in the Civil War. Her newest project involves a gigantic underwater craft named Ganymede, stolen from the Confederacy, that could be the deciding factor in the war. The only problem? Anyone who worked on it or knew anything about it is either dead or in jail.

In desperation, Josephine asks an old flame, Andan Cly, to pilot it. A (mostly) reformed pirate, Cly decides to help out his old friend while simultaneously completing a legitimate deal in Seattle. As Cly makes his way to New Orleans, another threat presents itself to Josephine: zombis. Can Cly pilot the Ganymede without dying and can they transport the craft to the U.S. before zombis or the Confederacy get to them?

Ganymede is the fourth installment in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series. An alternative history of the Civil War is built with zombies, fantastical machines, and steampunk elements. I loved Boneshaker and I had to get my hands on Ganymede. It definitely doesn’t disappoint!

The individual characters are dynamic and interesting to read about. Cherie Priest is especially skilled in creating a believable web of characters. Josephine is a bi-racial madame with a heart of gold. She’s incredibly strong and fiercely protective of her loved ones, including her ladies and her brother. Able to handle herself in a fight, she even successfully fights off zombies. I liked that she was strong, but didn’t lose her femininity or become completely emotionless because of it.

Although I really enjoyed Ganymede, I would have loved to see more of the social implications played out between the characters. Many of them are from different backgrounds and wouldn’t really get along so well right away. The mixed race brothel led by a bi-racial woman would have turned a few heads or incurred scrutiny or conflict from the Confederates. All of the interactions were a little too smooth, including that between Josephine and Andan. Madame Laveau, an aged and powerful voodoo practitioner based on a real person, was also a wasted opportunity that could have had larger implications.

Ganymede is a fun adventure story with interesting characters. Although there are faults, the battle scenes were exciting and suspenseful. It’s not my favorite book in the series, but it’s still a fun steampunk novel.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here: http://titania86-fishmuffins.blogspot.com/.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tor Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.