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Jacaranda - Cherie Priest Like Tanglefoot, Jacaranda is a short story set in the world of The Clockwork Century, even though it has little to do with that series all together. Also like Tanglefoot, this is another attempt at a horror story, instead of an alternate-history steampunk story. In fact, aside from the fact that one of the characters was featured in Ganymede (and that he gives a brief summary of events in that novel), it doesn't have any connection to the rest of the series at all. The biggest curiosity regarding this story is why it's considered to be part of The Clockwork Century; the tenuous connection adds nothing to the story, and I think it would have made more sense to feature new characters and make this a standalone, non-series story.

In Jacaranda, our main character is a priest with a tarnished background, called to Galveston, Texas ahead of a hurricane in order to help at a haunted hotel. People die by unseen forces in the hotel, usually in gruesome ways, and a nun who is a guest at the hotel sends a message to the Father to come and help. What he finds is something beyond understanding, but not beyond his control. It's important to keep in mind that the story isn't about whether the hotel is actually haunted; Priest makes it clear that, yes, it's a haunted hotel, and doesn't waste any time getting to that point. The story is definitely supernatural, not just in the hotel, but outside of it, as well.

The story is an effective one, even if it doesn't fit with the series proper. It's atmospheric and eerie, and Priest populates the story with characters who serve a purpose to the story, instead of just being filler. The hotel has a reputation, so guests are sparse, but still, there were enough characters in the novel to justify setting the story in a hotel. The story was a little too short to be fully invested in all of the characters, so it was hard to be affected by what deaths do occur in the story, but Priest creates them sufficiently enough so that you at least feel sympathy toward the victims.

I would like to see Priest return to The Clockwork Century with a story that truly belongs in the series. I was pleased with this novella, more so than I would have expected given its ever-so-slight connection to the rest of the series, and Priest is a talented writer who can work in any genre, but making it a part of The Clockwork Century just seems like a way to draw readers to the story who wouldn't otherwise read it. It feels like a cheap marketing technique, despite the fact that the story worked so well.