The Inexplicables, Cherie Priest’s fourth novel in the Clockwork Century series, breaks from her previous books in several ways. Most significantly, instead of being set in a new location in her Civil War-torn US, we return to Seattle with a new perspective: that of the drug-addled Rector Sherman, the kid who had a brief appearance in Boneshaker as the boy who showed Zeke Wilkes how to enter the city. This is the first full-length novel with only a male protagonist (though she did have Captain Hainey starring in her novella Clementine, and Andan Cly shared the spotlight with Josephine Early in Ganymede). There isn’t a mechanical showpiece that serves as the title’s namesake, either–though discovering exactly what the “Inexplicables” are surprised me.
The breaks from her previous storytelling don’t hinder her, however. In fact, The Inexplicables doesn’t rehash as much as it refocuses on the aspects that got readers to love her world in the first place: a gritty survival tale where gas masks and goggles are necessary to live another day, and the aesthetic’s rough edges feel natural and real. Like all of the books in the Clockwork Century, The Inexplicables is a stand-alone novel, but is accessible enough to pull in new readers while giving nods to longstanding fans.