Fiddlehead: A Penny Dreadful Review
It has finally happened. I have spilt tea on a book. The unfortunate victim of this tragedy is Fiddlehead, by Cherie Priest. Fortuitously, my copy of Fiddlehead was still readable, so I read it, tea stains and all.
Cherie Priest’s epic Clockwork Century series, which began with Boneshaker, concludes in Fiddlehead. The walking dead have spread like a cancer from city to city, in both the Union and the Confederacy, until they have become a larger threat than anyone could have imagined. Gideon Bardsley, inventor of the calculating machine known as the Fiddlehead, discovers vital information concerning the ongoing war. It must stop, or the whole continent will be destroyed. Unfortunately for Gideon Bardsley, certain war profiteers want to keep the war lumbering on, so they send assassins. Fortunately, Bardsley has some very powerful allies, such as Abraham Lincoln (who has here survived the attempt on his life at the Ford’s Theatre, thanks in part to Bardsley’s inventions).
This story is more focused on grand political movements and less on the actions of one woman as most of the other Clockwork Century novels are. The action is split over many locations as the protagonists struggle to stop a horrific war crime, spread the word that the zombis are an international threat, and survive multiple assassination attempts. If a character can be said to take center stage, it is President Ulysses S. Grant. Cherie Priest’s portrayal is sympathetic and it is an absolute pleasure to see the man in action (once he is goaded into action, that is).
I would award Fiddlehead four gears out of five. It was not my favorite Clockwork Century novel, but it was a satisfying conclusion all the same. It is worth reading and reading again.
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather