William Everett is proud of his rags-to-riches father, manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but he wants to forge his own destiny.
Will’s first chance comes when real-life 19th-century rail baron Cornelius Van Horne invites him on a train ride to greet his years-absent, track-laying dad at a nearby mountain camp. After surviving an avalanche and a terrifying sasquatch attack, Will gets to hammer in the last spike, a diamond-encrusted gold railway spike worth a fortune. The story resumes three years later, as a taller, more fancified Will embarks with his now–high-ranking father on the maiden voyage of the Boundless, an opulent, 987-car train—a “rolling city” complete with automaton bartender and traveling circus, 7 miles from locomotive to caboose. Untold treasure is locked up in Van Horne’s booby-trapped funeral car, and a motley crew of hungry souls wants to get their hands on it no matter whom they have to kill to get it. The suspenseful shenanigans that follow shape this wild, cinematic ride, but the underlying narrative track is Will’s dogged determination to follow his own bliss—perhaps as an artist—despite his father’s strict opposition.
Canadian railway history, fantasy, a flutter of romance—and a thoughtful examination of social injustice—collide in this entertaining swashbuckler from the author of Printz Honor–winning Airborn (2005). (Historical fantasy. 9-14)