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Iron Cast Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Owing to a blood condition, hemopaths have the ability to perform a variety of illusions through poetry, painting, or music. In an alternate Boston, as Prohibition is on the verge of making alcohol illegal in 1919, hemopathy shows are also officially against the law. Corinne Wells and Ada Navarra have called Johnny Dervish's club, the Cast Iron, home for years, blending their respective magical talents as a wordsmith and a songsmith both on stage and in cons meant to rustle up enough money to keep the club open. After a routine job goes wrong, Ada is sent to a hemopath prison, and her attempt at escape sets off a series of events that leave two Cast Iron workers dead and Dervish in the wind. With only each other and their talents as hemopaths and con women to rely on, Ada and Corinne will have to confront uncomfortable truths about Johnny, the Cast Iron, and themselves if they want to keep their freedom. Woven with layered themes, including racial prejudice (Corinne is white, and Ada is mixed race), Soria's debut novel is an atmospheric alternate history fantasy. Readers will be easily swept up by the vivid descriptions of everything from historic Boston locations to complex hemopath illusions. Stories of the diverse cast of flawed and complicated characters striving to do better complement the solid female friendship at the core of this absorbing novel. VERDICT Mystery and fantasy blend well in this witty title filled with twists and fast-paced action. A first purchase for all fiction collections.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library
"Energetic and original, this alternative history, fantasy, and mystery mashup with its pair of smart, resourceful, flawed but engaging heroines never disappoints."
"Hand this entrancing historical fantasy to fans of Libba Bray's Diviners series or anyone who likes their magic on the seamier side."
"Stories of the diverse cast of flawed and complicated characters striving to do better complement the solid female friendship at the core of this absorbing novel... Mystery and fantasy blend well in this witty title filled with twists and fast-paced action."
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I must start off by saying that I loved the relationship between Corinne and Ada. They may be very different people, but they are equally committed to one another. Their friendship didn’t come about easily and there are still times when their personalities clash, but they play off each other really well and know that above anything, they can rely completely on the other. Their sassy banter was a delight to read and they made a powerful pair in spite of all the things that went against them. I loved all of the powerful women in this book. There were no damsels in distress in this one and each female character showed strength in different ways which made the entire ensemble a delight to read about.
The world of hemopathy is beguiling and awe-inspiring. These gifts are described in such beautiful writing, I felt immediately transported. The author also does a really good job showing the negative side of having such a dangerous talent: the fear and ethical questions that arise when having the ability to manipulate others. Iron Cast emphasizes the importance of a self-made family in a world that won’t accept you for who you are and showcases a strong female friendship that had me smiling and pulled at my heartstings.
Ada and Corinne were perfect! I loved them and their friendship and banter from the opening scene. They're the heart of this story together and apart. I love Ada's dedication to her family, and Corrine's devil may care attitude.
As much as I loved Ada and Corinne and their friendship, the largest thing I wanted from this book was more! While it was almost there, I felt like it needed just a tiny bit more to develop the side characters for me. And to create that oomph that would make me really really attached to the plot. (It's not that the stakes aren't huge, I think there just needed to be a little bit more time to linger on the meaning of the stakes and the horror of Haversham, to linger on the Cast Iron club, to linger on Ada's relationship with her mother, etc).
If you're a fan of The Diviners, or fantasy in that vein, definitely pick this book up!
Ada Navarra and Corinne Wells are best of friends who preform together at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, the year of 1919. But their performance is no usual routine, for Ada and Corinne are hemopaths – people who’s afflicted blood gives them magical abilities based on the arts. Ada can affect people’s emotions with her music and Corinne can use her poetry recital to craft illusions. But it’s not easy to be a hemopath in Boston of 1919. Performances have been outlawed and while the club still performs illegally, Ada and Corinne have been running cons to make ends meet. At the beginning of Iron Cast, Ada has been captured and imprisoned in one of the institutions designed to be the “humane” solution for the hemopath “problem.” But that’s only the start of the pair’s trouble.
Destiny Soria brilliantly creates her vision of a magical, 1919 Boston. I felt utterly transported into her setting, and while I’m not an expert on the time period, her version rang true to me. Iron Cast takes you from shadowy clubs to splendid ballrooms, and every moment was wonderful. I also really loved the magical system of the book. I’ve seen various other versions of “art as magic” stories, but Iron Cast is undoubtedly my favorite. Soria’s writing really conveys the beauty and emotion of her protagonist’s artwork.
Speaking of emotion, Iron Cast got me so emotional! I don’t think I’m normally this caught up in a story. When things looked bad for our protagonists, I felt panicky and on the edge of my seat. I had to know what happened next! The beginning may have been a bit slow, but by the second half I was practically glued to the pages.
However, the main highlight of Iron Cast was the relationship between Ada and Corinne. It’s unusual to see friendship treated as this important and powerful, especially between female characters. I adored it. I love how much these two girls love each each other and support each other. Together, they are an unstoppable force, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Not only were Ada and Corinne well developed, but the supporting cast was strong as well. I’m writing this review two weeks after reading the book and I can still remember the names of the supporting characters. This is huge for me. I’m also happy with how diverse the cast was in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Ada’s mixed race, and the difficulties of being black and female in 1919 aren’t glossed over. Oh, and doesn’t she look so beautiful on the cover? Honestly, cover love is what drew me to this book in the first place.
Iron Cast isn’t exactly a heist book per se, but it had enough of those elements to keep me happy. While the story stands alone, I hope that Soria decides to write a sequel because I’d love to return to this world and these characters. This is one of those books where I’ll be enthusiastically pushing my copy onto my friends, begging them to read it. I can’t recommend it enough, and I am excited to read whatever Soria writes next!