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The Iron Thorn The Iron Codex Book One Hardcover – February 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Steampunk fans will delight in this first title in the sure-to-be-popular Iron Codex series, featuring an alternate, Victorian-flavored America tightly controlled by Proctors and driven by the Engine, an underground power source. The only girl at the prestigious School of Engines of Lovecraft Academy, Aoife Grayson is terrified that she will follow her mother and brother into the hereditary madness that strikes on the sixteenth birthday, now just a few weeks away. Determined to escape that fate, she sets off to her never-met father’s estate, with her friend Cal and a cocksure but very appealing hired guide. Here, she tumbles into a magical world she recognizes from her father’s journals and her mother’s mad ravings. Kittredge’s richly descriptive narrative captures all the details of clockwork, inventive machinery, foggy mists, ghastly ghouls, and creative landscapes. There’s plenty of tame but satisfying romance, too, and plot twists galore. Aoife is a caustic-tongued, feisty, and independent young woman, with plenty of nerve and courage. The abrupt ending signals a sequel, which can’t come too soon. Grades 7-12. --Debbie Carton

About the Author

CAITLIN KITTREDGE is the author of the Nocturne City series, the upcoming Black London adventures for St. Martin's Press, as well as the Icarus Project superhero saga for Bantam Spectra (with Jackie Kessler) (all adult projects). She lives and writes in Massachusetts. You can visit her at

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Download an excerpt from The Iron Thorn [PDF].

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Iron Codex (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1St Edition edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738293
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,196,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the Nocturne City series, as well as several short stories. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. She's lucky enough to write full time and watches far too many trashy horror movies. Visit her website at to learn more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jubercat on June 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Caitlin Kittridge's book combines Lovecraftian, Orwellian and Masonic elements with steampunk to create a unique dystopian world in her first novel for young adults. Author of two urban fantasy series for adults, Kittridge is no stranger to the crafting of alternative universes, but this one is her most complex and imaginative. There are certain "Potterish" similarities that cannot be ignored, but Kittridge gains points by making her heroine a student of engineering, and creating a magic system that is an interesting blend of the supernatural and the scientific.

The prose is cleverly crafted to match the setting. While Aoife Grayson and her companions are still in the city of Lovecraft, the writing style reflects the steely mechanization of the city, as in: "his cheeks [were] twin combustions of red in the cold." Once the heroes leave the city and enter the more supernatural-tinged countryside near Aoife's familial home, the descriptions become more visceral.

The characters are something of a mixed bag. Aoife's friend Cal is the most solidly conceived, for reasons that make sense later in the book. Aoife herself is so guarded that it is difficult to ever gain a clear picture of her, and the personality of their guide, Dean, proves to be as amorphous as a shoggoth; he starts out as a cocky street ruffian who calls the heroine, "Miss Aoife" and speaks with British colloquialisms. Later, he loses his edge and instead develops a rat pack-style swagger, and habit of saying things like, "This is weirdsville, kid. Your old man's a spooky cat," and "You're a bright penny, kid." It seemed Kittridge was still getting a feeling for these two characters' personalities as she wrote them.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By HHK VINE VOICE on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all the positives:
Incredibly well written
Great world building
Dark atmosphere

I hated Aoife (Ee-Fa)! She treatEd her friend Cal like dirt the minute Dean shows up. She was cruel to Bethany. It's hard to enjoy a book when on each page you hate the protagonist more and more,

Also I thought that this book was overwritten and almost too complex. It could have been edited down. I had to force myself to finish it. I will not be reading the next books in this series.

Ms. Kiittredge is clearly a very talented writer, I just hated Aoife and it ruined the story forme.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Urban Fantasy Investigations on March 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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I feel so bad but I just could not get thorough the book. I forced myself to read through half of it and just could not continue to read it all and skimmed through to the end. It felt like every page was 10 pages long and everything was way over explained. The more I read the more I found that I just wanted the page to end and get on with the story. The plot was a good plot and the world building was fantastic, but uggh I really just could not connect with it at all. I was going to purchase the book and I'm glad that I decided to borrow it from the library instead.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Meegan VINE VOICE on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It took a few chapters before this book really started to grow on me. First off, I'm not a huge fan of the 1950s...and the idea of a steampunk story set in an alternate 1950s sounded even less appealing. Secondly, I spent a large portion of the book wanting to slap Cal silly. Lastly, in an era supposedly filled with simple, easy to spell and pronounce names (Jack, Sue, Lucy), why in the hell would you give your main character a name like Aoife?!

But eventually I got sucked in and now, having just finished it, I can honestly say this was one of the most creative and entertaining YA books I've read this year. Seriously, this book has it all: steampunk, gothic horror, fairies, romance, a strong heroine, a compelling hero, and enough twists and turns to keep even the most jaded reader on her/his toes. I can safely say I absolutely did not see some of the big reveals in the second half of the book coming. At all. Kittredge really knows how to play her hand without showing her cards too soon. Frankly, in the hands of a less talented writer, this story could have been an unholy mess: there's SO much going on and so many layers to the story. But I think it all unfolded perfectly...and I don't think it was overly long as some folks have said. But then I like my stories to suck me in and hold me there for more than a few hours.

I really liked Aoife a lot. She's quite a change from the usual batch of YA urban fantasy heroines--either they're mature beyond their years and overly competent OR they are too pliant and simply looking for a hero to prop them up and save them. Aoife is a wonderful foil for the period she lives in, a time when girls were expected to be good, get married, and not do much with their brains. Aoife is the exact opposite of all that but she's not perfect either...
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nelaine Sanchez VINE VOICE on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a very unique adventure you'll find in The Iron Thorn. Set in an alternate Boston, Lovecraft, almost has the feel of a dystopian society. Where the government has control of its people and something as simple as believing in a fairytale will deem you a heretic. Aiofe is worried now that she is on the cusp of her 16th birthday - the same age that both her mother and older brother went mad. When she receives a message from her brother a few weeks before her birthday she grabs her BFF and they are off to discover what truly happened to him.

I really tried to love this book and there were many things about it that I did enjoy. For instance, I loved the steampunk-ness of it. It was dark and spooky and I was captivated by every dark corner just worrying about what was waiting to jump out at you from it. I loved the machinery, the magic, the madness of it all. The world building was phenomenal. It was truly as if you were transported to another time and place. The descriptions were so vivid that you could easily envision Lovecraft and its inhabitants.

My main complaint is that the book is so long. I felt that the story could have easily been told in half its size. The plot itself was also somewhat complicated so between that and me trying to truly grasp everything that was taking place, it felt tedious at times. I also hated the name Aiofe. I had the same problem with Hermione (Harry Potter) for the first three HP books until it was finally explained in the fourth book. I know I never pronounced Aiofe right and just hated the doubt and pretty much the name altogether. With names like Conrad, Calvin and Dean you would've thought our heroine had a name that was much simpler to say.

Unfortunately, I didn't love The Iron Thorn, but I didn't hate it either.
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