Review: Fiddlehead

Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest
a Novel of the Clockwork Century
Steampunk/Fantasy/Alternative History
ISBN: 9780765334077
A Tor Paperback


FTC Disclosure: Oh, it’s mine. ALL MINE.


One of Steampunk’s better series comes to an end. For now.

How bittersweet it was turning that last page. Luckily, Cherie Priest has written other books and stories that I hope to get my hands on — SOON..

This is one of those series that you want to re-read almost as soon as you put down the last book. The development of the story and all its characters are what made this so good, not to mention so hard to say good-bye to.

Priest has always been an author I love to recommend as an introduction to Steampunk along with Gail Carriger and Scott Westerfeld. The Clockwork Century books aren’t as traditional as some being set during an alternative version of the Civil War, but that difference is what, I think, helps American readers connect to the genre.

What I love about Steampunk is that I’ve found it not to be heavily gender based, at least not in the series I’ve read. Yes there are definite male and female protagonists, but I never feel I am reading something girly or over the top masculine. In the Clockwork Century books, storylines are divvied up nicely regardless of gender, color, and/or social background. Also every book, including Fiddlehead, remains true to the Steampunk world and an accuracy to history even though it’s been tweaked in order to fit well into an alternate rendition.

Fiddlehead is the name given to an extraordinary calculating machine, so called because it is so quick and smart, it’s function could “fiddle with a fellow’s head”. It’s inventor, a freed slave and genius Dr. Gideon Bardsley, constructed Fiddlehead to help end the war. Unfortunately war is expensive and profitable. There are those that don’t want Fiddlehead to survive. Or Dr. Bardsley for that matter.

Enter ex-spy and current Pinkerton operative by the name of Maria “Belle” Boyd. Formerly working for the Confederacy, now for the Union, she just wants to move on with her life and help end the war. Trusting her when few do, Allan Pinkerton sends her to Abraham Lincoln when he asks for help in protecting Dr. Bardsley, who happens to be one of the people who trust Belle the least based upon her past. Oh the tangled webs.

It’s just one of the many challenges she, as well as those who support Lincoln and Fiddlehead’s information, will face in order to end the war when there are those more powerful who don’t. More than just the United States is facing a world-ending catastrophe and it takes all of Dr. Bardsley genius, Belle’s cleverness, and Lincoln’s power to prove this potential for Armageddon and get the war to end.

It’s a wild ride from start to finish, so be sure to set enough time aside to enjoy it.

I’m sad to have to say farewell to them all, but I know it’s not a final good-bye. Cherie Priest has other books and just came out with one (Maplecroft) that from what I can see, will have me falling even more in love with her writing.

Love this book. Love the series.

You will too.





Cherie Priest is the author of several books, including Boneshaker, the first Clockwork Century book, which won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and keeps a popular blog a

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