By: Destiny Soria
Published By: Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fantasy
In 1919, the world was still licking its wounds from WWI and attempting to get on with life. In Soria's version of 1919 Boston, there is more than just memories of The Great War troubling people. In this version of 1919, groups of people known as hemopaths are the topic of conversation. Hemopaths have a blood affliction which gives them special gifts beyond the normal realm. For example, songsmiths can influence emotions with the songs they play while a wordsmith can spin illusions by reciting poetry. While these gifts sound beautiful, they are often used for nefarious purposes.
Iron Cast focuses on two hemopaths, Ada and Corinne. The girls live at the Iron Cast Club, as it is a safe haven for hemopaths. Ada comes from a biracial, multi-cultural family who understands her gift as a songsmith. On the other hand, Corinne comes from the upper realms of society and has kept her affliction a secret. Her family is constantly lamenting the scourge that hemopaths have unleashed on society. Corinne must live a double life in order to placate her family and keep her true nature a secret. Ada and Corinne's friendship is one of the strengths of the novel; they come from such different worlds, but are still able to find common ground.
I loved the world created by Soria and found her explanations for how hemopaths worked to be fascinating. Like the fey, hemopaths are uncomfortable around iron. I couldn't help but wonder if Soria used fey lore when she was crafting her world. Soria has managed to put an intriguing spin on the paranormal realm.
I was also impressed with the seamless blend between historical detail and fantasy. Soria writes in a way that makes this universe seem almost plausible. It certainly would have made life more interesting if hemopaths did exist. It also made me consider how their skills and talents could have been used in world conflicts.
In addition to the historical fantasy elements, there is also a bit of a mystery/thriller vibe.
All in all, I found this to be an immensely satisfying read. The characters come alive while the world building is fantastic. Iron Cast kept me guessing and frantically reading.
One Last Gripe: The action begins right away with little explanation. I found it somewhat disorienting. Once I found my bearings and began to understand the characters and the world better, I was hooked.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The loyalty between Ada and Corinne
First Sentence: Corinne's first day as a nurse at the Haversham Asylum for Afflictions of the Blood was a frosty Thursday.
Favorite Character: Ada
Least Favorite Character: Corinne's brother
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.