I have a tough time writing a review for something that I’m ambivalent about. I certainly did not hate this book, but I’m not really feeling the love for it either. Explains why it took me awhile to read it, I guess.
“Dreadnought” is part of a loosely tied together series of alternate/history/steampunk books called the “Clockwork Century Series”. I read the first (?) book in the series, “Boneshaker”, last year and enjoyed it. It was a bit slow in some parts, but manageable, and the characters and plot were intriguing. “Dreadnought” is a bit slower and the plot less intriguing.
Mercy Lynch, our heroine, is a Civil War nurse in a Confederate hospital and has just received word that her husband, a Union solider, has been killed. On the heels of that information, she receives a telegram from a sheriff in Seattle regarding her estranged father who is ill. Mourning the death of her husband and exhausted by the war that employs her (the Civil war in this alt/history world has been going on for 20 years), Mercy sets out from Richmond to visit her father in Seattle.
The bulk of the novel is the arduous journey from Virginia to Washington via dirigible, boat and train. The most notable portion of the trip is the train ride between Memphis and Salt Lake City aboard a tricked out Union train, the Dreadnought, which is carrying secret cargo and passengers, alive and dead. Along the way the Dreadnought is attacked externally by Confederate bandits driving gigantic walking machines and internally by a mad scientist hell-bent on winning/finishing the war at any cost.
The characters in the book, both main and secondary, are well drawn and interesting and are constantly beset with conflict in a confined space, but I was still left finding it slow and a bit lacking. I’m just not sure what it was lacking.