Where Eagles Dare Not Perch

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In the wake of the violent, damaging Civil War, sniper Zachary Webster and those left in his trail of destruction struggle to adapt. Where Eagles Dare Not Perch is a dark, compelling work of historical fiction in the strain of Cormac McCarthy and other historical tales of revenge. When Zachary kills Jonathan Stiller for stealing away his sweetheart, Catherine Brandford, Jonathan’s brother Jedediah goes on the hunt to avenge his brother’s murder. Catherine, too, takes her own journey in an attempt to stop the violent confrontation that she knows will happen between the two men. The novel then follows Zachary, Jedediah, and Catherine as they, each in their own ways, attempt to survive and escape the consequences of war.

Bridgford’s writing is clear and cleanly edited. Depictions of battles and other action can easily become confusing, but Bridgford takes care to depict the events of the novel in ways that are easy for the reader to follow, even though the short chapters frequently change perspective and jump between the paths of the three central characters. Furthermore, a sense of the plot’s historical setting is well-established, but historical minutia never overwhelms the drama. Finally, early on it becomes clear that the three central characters are all going to collide by the story’s end, yet Bridgford does excellent work of building the sense of dread that grows throughout the novel. By the time the three characters meet, I was anxious to see how their built-up motivations and missions of revenge would unwind, and the ability to maintain that tension throughout the course of the novel demonstrates Bridgford’s skills as a writer.

The novel’s dark tone and subject matter are not for everyone; at times it felt like the seemingly non-stop tragedy and violence overwhelmed the plot’s progression or significance. Even with its fictional perspective and commitment to the realities and effects of war, the brutality occasionally seems gratuitous in its lack of contribution to the plot or the characters’ development, particularly by the time cannibalism enters the story. The three characters are certainly not intended to be wholly sympathetic or heroic protagonists, but more elaboration on their motivations and interior lives might have done more to draw the reader into their world rather than the seemingly nonstop stream of violence and ruin.

On the whole, Where Eagles Dare Not Perch is a well-written look at the journey of three very different people who, once set on their respective paths, are destined to collide with each other in a way that none can escape from. Bridgford brings a little-known element of the Civil War to life through Webster’s role as a sharpshooter and writes effectively to examine the realities of revenge, violence, and the costs of war.


Reviewed By:

Author Peter Bridgford
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 344 pages
Publisher Black Rose Writing
Publish Date 2018-Jul-26
ISBN 9781684331079
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2018
Category Historical Fiction
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