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Heart of Iron Paperback – July 19, 2011
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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Top Customer Reviews
Very fairytale and the last half is pretty boring since despite that supposedly things happen at an accelerating pace, there is no tension, no sense of danger, you know all will be cheery/peachy and even the bad guys may be redeemed so to speak, while the characters besides the narrator remain one dimensional throughout.
The one thing that kept me reading and for which I would give this a B- rating is the narrator who is engaging to the end and it was a pleasure; sadly this novel could have been so much better were it to either embrace steampunk in its essence - pure wish fulfillment adventure - or if it would have been darker and indeed realistic and one in which actions have consequences
I won't get into into the plot, as I prefer to go into book's as clueless as possible, but the AV Club's review of the novel hit the nail on the head in pointing out that the main draw of the book isn't the plot but our narrator Sasha Trubetskaya. She's such a great, perfectly-realized protagonist that even without any plot whatsoever Heart of Iron would be an engaging read, but I enjoyed Sasha's literal journey every bit as much as her internal one. The supporting cast, in particular Sasha's aunt Eugenia, are deftly rendered and enjoyable, and Sedia's tweaking of history is both clever and ingenious--rather than assuming that actual persons would be the same individual in any mildly altered version of our history, Sedia twists familiar figures into intriguing new shapes. It's a great subversion of our expectations, and enjoyably raises more questions than it answers regarding other discrepancies between our historical record and Sasha's world.Read more ›
One thing that Sedia does well (to put it lightly) is immersing her readers in the scene and characters. I've never been to Europe, much less Eurasia/Russia, yet I felt as if I were right there with Sasha, Jack, and the rest. Her prose is lush and gorgeous, and so comfortable that it's like one of those old couches that you've worn a butt grove into that you're loathe to leave after you sit down. It sucks you right in, and you don't want to leave.
However, one of the pitfalls of the novel early on is that there is a bit more telling instead of showing than I could tolerate, but that was soon fixed as the novel went on. I guess, in an alt-history book a certain amount of telling is something that can't be entirely avoided, so I will give that to Sedia. But at least it's not ALL telling, and once we're with Sasha in school, the telling stops and the showing goes into glorious overdrive.
And then there's another added element which she kind of sneaks in under the reader's nose - the paranormal. Paranormal in alt-history and steampunk genre books isn't at all rare, but the way Sedia wove it into her story was so subtle, I actually had to go back and reread a small portion to catch it. One of the problems with being an aspie is to over-notice things, and the fact she got it by me is an achievement in of itself. And the best part?Read more ›
The pacing completely runs aground at the 65% line. It floundered and flopped like a beached fish for a while, and then the climax ran by in such a blur I was left wondering, 'what just happened?'. And for some reason, every single character who gets more than a few lines is an unlikely intellectual and deep thinker. It felt fine when the book was set in the University, but once we left it felt grossly out of place.
Amazing writing style; you'll love it if you're a prose junky.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well I enjoyed this tale of Russianaristocracy and superhuman feats it does not have the historical attraction of Ken Folletss books I normally enjoy.Published 23 months ago by Desert Rat in AJ
The Good: I very much enjoyed the imagery that the author used to paint the landscape of Nineteenth-Century Russia. Read morePublished on January 27, 2014 by C. Boettger
It was an ok read, but I wouldn't recommend it. I don't think it can pass as a contemporary teen read; it's truly something else.Published on November 7, 2013 by Matthew Mercado
Disclaimer: I only got to the end of of chapter 7 before I started skipping ahead in ever greater chunks. Read morePublished on March 9, 2012 by Bugsy123
While the premise and the first half of the book was amazing, I thought it really ran out of steam in the second half. Read morePublished on October 19, 2011 by Amazon Customer