The Boneshaker

by Kate Milford

Other authorsAndrea Offermann (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2011

Call number




HMH Books for Young Readers (2011), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages


When Jake Limberleg brings his traveling medicine show to a small Missouri town in 1913, thirteen-year-old Natalie senses that something is wrong and, after investigating, learns that her love of automata and other machines make her the only one who can set things right.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lquilter
Entertaining historical fantasy YA about an evil traveling fair, and a young girl's efforts to save her family from the devil. I liked it!
LibraryThing member KimJD
Wow. This story of Natalie and how she saves her little midwestern town from Dr Limberleg (of the Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show, who by the way made a deal with the devil a while back) is amazing. Kate Milford's evocative language puts the reader squarely in the early twentieth
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century and she blends history and fantasy effortlessly. No horrific ghosts or monsters here, but I have to say I haven't been this chilled reading a story in a long time. I think it's the little guy in the harlequin outfit that really adds that element of dread. An excellent, engaging, thought-provoking tale that packs a wallop.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
I have heard great things about this book and was excited to read it. I received this book as an advanced reading copy through the Amazon Vine Program. It was a wonderful book and I really enjoyed it.

Natalie Minks loves working on all things mechanical. She has an awesome bike that she built with
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her dad, but cannot ride. When a company of traveling medicine men shows up in town she thinks something is not right with them. When the lead Dr. of the group, Jake Limberleg, makes one of Natalie's automaton run without a key to wind it, Natalie's suspicions increase. As both Natalie's brother and mother seek help from Dr. Limberleg Natalie gets an ever increasing feeling of unease. Natalie ends up navigating the complicated maze of tents in the medicine show in an effort to find the truth. As she searches, Natalie finds out that the very Devil himself might be involved and that she may be the only one that can stop if only she could ride her awesome bike...

This was an excellent book. The characters are well-developed and interesting; the discussions around mechanics are also intriguing. Milford does an excellent job of building suspense and mystery and really keeping the plot moving. This is a wonderful portrait of 1914 and visits many old American ideas. The explanation behind the various types of "medicine" employed by the traveling medicine show was wonderful and teaches an interesting history of the strange paths medicine has taken. This was just an excellent story, and Milford writes it in the style of a truly excellent story-teller.

The story has a bit of humor here and there and I loved the idea of one person in town being a storykeeper. The strengths of this story are the wonderful characterizations and the wonderful technical explanations behind medicine and machinery. I also loved the odd things included; like the fact that every wagon at the crossroads looses its right front wheel, then mysteriously they find a building in the ghost town with front wheels hanging on the walls.

The drawings in the ARC weren't all final yet, but the sketches that were included were well done and really evoke the feeling of the story. As far as I know this is a single book and not part of a series. The book would be appropriate for younger children, although there are some parts with demons and the Devil that get kind of scary.

Natalie is a great role model for young adults and the cast of crazy characters are bound to keep people of all ages interested. Milford is an author that I will definitely be keeping tabs on in the future.
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LibraryThing member prkcs
When Jake Limberleg brings his traveling medicine show to a small Missouri town in 1913, thirteen-year-old Natalie senses that something is wrong and, after investigating, learns that her love of automata and other machines make her the only one who can set things right.
LibraryThing member lilibrarian
A medicine show has come to town. The devil has attempted to bargain with a local man. A mysterious illness breaks out in the next town, and a drifter is seen in town and in the abandoned town down the road.
LibraryThing member skstiles612
I just went back to school and found the book in my box. I am glad I had the opportunity to read and review it. This story is set in 1913 and the main character is 13 year old tomboy Natalie Minks from Arcane, Missouri. She likes all things mechanical and helps her father. When she isn't helping
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him she listens to her mother who is a master story teller. Things plug along smoothly until the traveling medicine show comes to town. At this point I have to say the book reminded me of one of my favorite movies, "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Natalie must find a way to make the adults in the town believe her. She knows the "doctor" is not really who he claims to be. This was a fun and quirky book. It had history, fantasy, and a spooky, creepy feel throughout the book. I won't say this book is for everyone, but I believe I will have a large number of students who will appreciate this, especially if I pitch it just right. . Still, when all is said and done I enjoyed the book. I must say the illustrations are wonderful.
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LibraryThing member bluesalamanders
A strange medical fair comes to town and unlike most of her neighbors, Natalie is not convinced that they are really there to help people.

The Boneshaker is well-written with an intriguing plot and Natalie is a great character, but I'm left a bit disappointed at the end of the book. There are too
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many loose ends, too many things that were superficially explained but never really explained. It's a fun book but ultimately unsatisfying.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Oh, so delightfully, artfully creepy. Kate Milford knows how to get under a reader's skin with scenes that feel like they're unfolding before your eyes. This is a story about the power of storytelling and the courage it takes to stare down the Devil himself when everything you hold dear is at stake.
LibraryThing member Othemts
Don't let the Young Adult label fool you, this is a terrific eerie thriller involving bicycles, carnivals, patent medicines, automatons and the Devil. Set in a mysterious Southern town near the crossroads, the narrative follows young Natalie Minks as she tries to deal with a nefarious patent
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medicine troupe who are bewitching the townspeople. Built on legendary elements, this book is totally original and a compelling read.
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LibraryThing member lillibrary
When 13 yr. old Natalie visits the traveling medicine show that comes to her small town on the crossroads, she discovers that Jake Limberleg and his cohorts are not what they seem. Because of her love of machines and automata, she discovers that there is something supernatural about the way things
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work within the fair that is endangering the whole town.
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LibraryThing member Skybalon
There are not many YA novels that are genuinely creepy/scary--this one definitely is. Fun read that asks some very profound questions. Highly recommended.




0547550049 / 9780547550046


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