Title: Iron Cast
Author: Destiny Soria
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date published: October 11, 2016
Page Count: 384
An e-copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.
A seamless blend of real history, and a fantastical underworld imbibed with magic.
I was approved to read this book some months back, and I wanted to read it right away. But due to my reading (and work) schedule, I was unable to get to it until just a few days before it was published. What originally drew me to this title in NetGalley (I will admit), was the cover. I mean, it’s not just beautiful, but it also screams 1920s and magic. I also really liked that the cover featured a not-white character! I was intrigued.
Once I read the summary, I was completely sold. I studied Classic Hollywood films in school as part of my major (although both of my degrees only say English for some reason), and I particularly enjoyed the films ranging from the late 1910s to the 1930s. What also interested me about this book, was that judging from the cover, it would give us a glimpse into the lives of characters varying in social class, as well as racial and cultural backgrounds.
When starting to read Iron Cast, I was very happy to find that it was written in third person, and that the perspectives switched between the two main characters Ada and Corinne. While I’ve noticed that some reviewers have written that they were disappointed to find that the character featured on the book’s cover is not actually the main character, but rather that the “white girl” (a.k.a. Corinne) is the main, I will argue that Ada is in fact the main character. Ada and Corinne share the titles of “main character.”
There was not much world-building necessary, since Boston in 1919 already exists in a certain way in most of our minds. The only set-up which was really required was for specific locations, as well as some explanation regarding the “hemopaths” (or, the “afflicted” of blood) who can create illusions through music, poem recitation, or traditional art. I would have preferred some more detail regarding the “hemopaths”, as well as more history, but if you’ve read some of my past reviews, you’ll find that I’m not easily satisfied unless a book contains plenty of detail and history.
Regarding the characters in this book, however, I was very satisfied. Soria does make flat characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of characters which were brought to life for me while reading this novel. I really enjoyed Ada and Corinne’s relationship, because of how different they are, and yet how compatible despite this fact. I also really liked the secondary characters, as they were just as interesting as the main two, as well as diverse and distinct.
Soria’s writing is clear, and very easy to read. It was definitely engaging for the most part, but here is where I will have to discuss the two minor things which made me give this book 4 stars, rather than 4.5 or 5. The first one which I suppose I should discuss is the pacing. While the writing itself was engaging, the pacing made me feel as if parts of the plot dragged on a little. There were a few times where I felt as if the plot was going to wind down and wrap up, but when I would look at the amount of pages left, found that it wasn’t anywhere close to ending. Considering the events which took place toward the end of the novel, I do understand that it would have been impossible to combine them all into one single event. But at the same time, I found that this winding down, then winding back up, then winding down, was disorienting and a little frustrating.
Another thing which bothered me was the dialogue. It was very well written, and it flowed exceptionally well, and I am therefore not claiming that it is lacking in quality. The thing which bothered me, was that it sounded a little too contemporary. Maybe it is because I’ve seen numerous films from the 1910s and 20s, and I was therefore expecting the dialogue to contain more colloquial language and turns of phrase. Instead, I found that the majority of the dialogue, sounded more like how we English-speakers communicate in the present day.
While this is not a major issue, I did find that it made it a little difficult for me to remain immersed in this world which Soria has written for us. I solved the problem (for the most part) by playing music from the 1920s (a method which I’ve used on a number of occasions in the past, when I found that I wanted to further immerse myself into a real-world era, or fantastical world/setting). Others, however, may not find the dialogue to be an issue. I predict, in fact, that numerous younger readers will likely be grateful that the dialogue is not rife with slang and wording which they are not familiar with.
I did really enjoy this book as a whole, and I highly recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, fantasy, and friendship-centered narratives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
When I was a little girl, I wrote a book entitled Horses of All Kinds (complete with illustrations and staple binding). I’ve been writing ever since, though with fewer crayons. I grew up in a tiny town in Alabama that you’ve never heard of, where I spent my summers playing with sticks in the woods and exploring such distinguished careers as Forest Bandit, Wayward Orphan, and Woodland Fairy Princess.
Since none of those were actual college majors, I settled on English, so that I could read and write to my heart’s content—and earn a degree while I was at it. After college, I ran away to New Zealand for seven months, where I only pretended to be a character from Lord of the Rings on special occasions. The rest of the time I backpacked across the wilderlands, petted fluffy sheep, and gave tours of a haunted prison.
Nowadays I live and work in the shadow of the mighty Vulcan in Birmingham, AL. In my spare time, I hula hoop badly, direct a Shakespearean web series called Shakes, and snuggle with my cat Sophie (named for the witch in Howl’s Moving Castle, of course).
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