Monday, October 17, 2016

iron cast: stardust reviews

Iron Cast
Destiny Soria



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—captivate their audience. 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, they realize 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.

Full review under the cut!

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and ABRAMS kids/Amulet books. And I first just want to point out how absolutely BEAUTIFUL this cover is!! I was immediately drawn in by the girl, the necklace, the typeface. That has nothing to do with the book itself, because I requested it based off of the synopsis in the end, but it is worth noting that this cover is pretty!! (lol)

Iron Cast is about two girls, Ada and Corinne, who are badasses and besties living in Boston in 1919. However, it isn't the Boston, 1919 that you and I would think of. No, this 1919 Boston is a lot cooler and a lot more dangerous. It is populated by both normal people and also people called Hemopaths, who have different blood than other people. Their different blood gives them "powers," as well as an aversion to iron that outs them. Hemopaths fall into a couple of categories. The most common categories are Wordsmiths and Songsmiths. Wordsmiths use, you guessed it, words, to create lifelike illusions. Corinne is our resident wordsmith, and she can use an Edgar Allan Poe poem to make you see a monster, a Robert Frost poem to make you see a wintry landscape, or a few lines of Dante to make you lose your mind. Ada falls into the other category. Songsmiths use music, whether through an instrument or their voices, to make you feel things. Ada can hum a few bars and give you either the most incandescent joy or the most terrible despair. Other talents of hemopaths include: Thespians, who can make themselves look like anyone, from your own mother to Babe Ruth, and other myriad talents like pulling objects from paintings.

Hemopaths aren't trusted, for obvious reasons. When the book begins, legislation banning Hemopath activity is fresh. Though it isn't illegal to *be* one, per se, anyone suspected of illegally performing Hemopathy is immediately arrested and carted not to jail, but to an iron free asylum, which no one ever comes out of. In a way, the outlawing of hemopathy is paralleled with the ratification of prohibition in this book, which is really interesting!

So this is the scene that we come into with Corinne and Ada. They're best friends, living and working in a secret iron free club called the Cast Iron. They perform shows nightly, using Ada's music and Corinne's recitations to create the most unbelievable illusions for their rapt audiences. And on the side, they run cons. When one con goes sideways and Ada gets thrown into the asylum, it is up to Corinne to get her out. After she does, the girls begin to notice changes and tragedies befalling the Cast Iron employees and the city's hemopath population. Though they are under the protection of gangster Johnny Dervish, the girls take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on. Though they don't know that dangerous people are around every corner.

I really liked this book. I give it three and a half stars because I felt like there was a little bit of drag in the middle, but the beginning and the end were so exciting, and I liked the characters and the originality of the plot a lot. I also really like historical fiction, and I feel like this 1920's Boston is believable even as it is fantastical. I love it when historical fiction takes real history and changes one or two things. Like, Boston on the cusp of prohibition is interesting enough, but then throw in people with blood-motivated superpowers, and you've got me on a hook.

Corinne and Ada were fab protagonists. Corinne is a rich girl, from an old money Boston family. She is brash and bold and on the run from her status and her past. She jumps, head first, into every situation, confident in only two things, one being her own abilities, one being the fact that Ada will be there to save her when everything inevitably goes wrong. Corinne is a little bit unlikable in a way that I really enjoyed. (I don't say unlikable as a negative thing AT ALL. I love unlikable heroines and the interesting realism that comes with them) Ada is the more tempered of the two, the product of a portugese father and a senegalese (I THINK I can't remember the exact country I wish I could double check but my copy was archived) mother. She is more cautious and thinks things through, but in the end, when Corinne goes on a harebrained idea, Ada is right there with her. Their relationship is amazing. They have each other's backs, they work seamlessly together, and they are each other's most important person, but they also get annoyed with each other and fight, just like any other friends. Reading from their POVs made this world sparkle.

The supporting cast was also really enjoyable for me. Charlie, Ada's songsmith boyfriend, who is sweet and adores her, just as everyone adores him. I liked the fact that they were already dating when the book begun, and that we got to see their relationship develop throughout the novel. Saint, who is another Hemopath, who has known the girls since they were young, and who they have a complicated relationship with. Poor Saint, feeling bad about not having more of a backbone, conflicted over his feelings for James, a thespian theater owner, and scared of his own abilities to paint and then pull things out of his paintings. I loved him! And then there's Gabriel, the mysterious new muscle in the club. Freshly hired, clearly green, and immediately distrustful of Corinne's abilities, though it is clear they are drawn to each other. Gabriel was the most interesting character to me, for spoilery reasons, but let me just say there is so much about him that I found very interesting.

There was a TON of tension in this novel. Which was great. I felt like there was a clear goal for the characters most of the time, and aside from that spot in the middle where I felt like I was just waiting for the next big thing to happen, there was a lot of action in both the beginning and the end. The end especially was great, because just as I thought it couldn't get any bigger, the stakes couldn't get any higher, they did, and I gasped, and we repeated the process. Corinne and Ada's struggles as Hemopaths trying to support themselves in a world that is increasingly hostile towards them, dealing with crushes and family struggles and running cons without feeling bad, on top of trying to solve a city-wide mystery makes for very exciting reading! I loved that there were some plot twists that I could predict and some I never saw coming. It was just really enjoyably action-packed.

I would definitely recommend this book to you for the slightly-altered historical setting, the rock-solid female friendship, and the portrayal of diverse and clearly motivated characters.


1 comment:

  1. I'll have to pick this book up because it sounds fantastic! Great review


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