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The Iron Thorn Hardcover – February 22, 2011
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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 CaitlinKittredge.com.
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Top customer reviews
The romance scenes could have been done more better they were a little lackluster but the characters Aoife ( I still am not sure how to pronounce that), Dean and Cal were all very intriguing. I loved Dean because of how strong of a character he was and then there was Cal who is Aoife's best friend and was a total surprise in many ways. And then Aoife who was just as strong of a character as her male counterpart Dean. The girl had balls and was not afraid of a little adventure.
Overall the world building was done very well and quite unique. I found this to be an enjoyable read and will be picking up the next book soon.
As the jacket flap puts it, "Aoife's family is unique in the worst way." Her mother has gone crazy and is in an insane asylum, while her beloved older brother lost his mind, too, nearly killing Aoife before running away.
Aoife lives in the dark city of Lovecraft, where she studies in the strict school of engineers, applying reason and science to practical problems. Her fellow student and best friend, Cal, stands by her, but even he is uneasy when it appears that Aoife herself will lose her mind when she turns sixteen. The city authorities, as represented by the Proctors, also have their eye on the girl, which is a very bad thing.
Then Aoife gets a cryptic message from her brother Conrad and sets off to find him, presumably at their father's home in a village to the north. Crossing the city, let alone the countryside, is a dreadful prospect, considering the threat of death or capture from monsters like the nightjars and government spies in the form of clockwork ravens. Fortunately, Aoife and Cal find a scruffy guide named Dean, who has secrets of his own. He knows a guy with an airship, and it appears he won't sell them out to the monsters that live in the sewer system, so off they go.
The little company eventually reach the house where Aoife's father lived, only there's no sign of him or of Conrad. Of course, Aoife has never met the man. And his house turns out to be very strange indeed. That's even before Aoife has her first encounter with the fairy realm, whose denizens--most notably a fey named Tremaine--may prove to be the greatest threat of all. But Aoife, despite her growing attraction to Dean and her loyalty to Cal, will do anything to get her brother back. Anything.
This book is a thoroughly marvelous tale, one of my favorites so far in 2011. In fact, I felt that my experience of YA horror/steampunk/dystopian fantasy was refreshed by reading The Iron Thorn. I also appreciate how the main plot thread comes to a satisfying conclusion, even as new problems set us up for the next volume in this series. In addition, for those of you looking for romance, Aoife's interactions with Dean aren't cliché in the least; they're clever and bumpy and real (with Cal acting sweetly jealous, to boot).
I know you're all wondering how to pronounce the main character's name, so I looked it up: that would be ee-fa.
Now, please get your shivers on and enter the alarming world of Aoife's Lovecraft!
Note for Worried Parents: This is a book for teens. The horror elements are pretty horrific, and there's some teen attraction with eventual kissing.