As one of my friends tells me that I “always write negative reviews,” (which is only sometimes, by the way) I’m very happy to inform him, and anyone looking for a review to read, that I loved this book. It’s not often that I want to replace an ebook copy with a physical one (because I don’t need two copies), but that is the case for this one.
Iron Cast is set in 1919, when the United States is just on the cusp of passing prohibition. As it is, hemopathy, the ability to create illusions through art, music, or words, is already banned. Hemopaths are being snatched from the streets and thrown in an institution for their “protection”–or worse. Naturally, underground clubs are thriving. Ada and Corinne are two such hemopaths, friends for so long that one struggles to exist without the other. They’ve trained their gifts for so long that they can react unconsciously to cues that the other gives. When their patron disappears, Ada and Corinne realize how precarious their situation in Boston is. They decide that the only thing they can do is to solve the mystery themselves in order to save the Cast Iron, the only place they’ve truly felt at home.
This is a great historical fiction novel. Every place that Destiny Soria takes the reader is vividly described, from the Cast Iron, to Corinne’s family home, to the institution. I have absolutely no complaints about it. The setting really sets the tone for the events of the novel. There are the glittering places where the rich go and the less-rich perform and they’re side-by-side with the grittier sides of the city. I was really able to visualize what was going on at all times in the novel. I liked when the characters had to go from the speakeasy-esque clubs and gangster inhabited world to that of high society for wedding preparations. I really appreciated the detail that Soria went into in order to really develop this world. Settings can sometimes make or break a book, and it one hundred percent made this novel for me. It made the tense moments of the novel even more so because I really felt like I was in Boston during this time. Iron Cast was also an alternative history novel, so it was cool to see the familiar things but also have a fantasy aspect to the world.
The setting was supplemented by amazing characters. Of course, Ada and Corinne, our two protagonists, are the most developed, but Soria didn’t let the supporting characters fall by the wayside. The character building was wonderful. Ada and Corinne come from completely different backgrounds. Ada grew up with a Portuguese father and a mother from Mozambique. She’s been treated badly by outsiders for most of her life because of her skin color, and initially she thought that Corinne–a girl from a wealthy family–was going to be the same. That changed when they both realized that they could be each other’s support in a a world that doesn’t accept their differences. Both are hemopaths, an affliction that isn’t understood but is feared by many. When they work together they can make people believe just about anything.
Ada and Corinne have probably the strongest friendship I have ever seen between two girls in young adult literature. Too often friendships between girls in young adult literature becomes catty and fractures over something stupid, or are presented as ways to slut-shame girls compared to the protagonist. Not so with Iron Cast. These girls loved each other. They were loyal to each other. They were sisters united against the hardships of their world, defending and protecting each other when the other couldn’t protect themselves. Their relationship was so believable that moments between them brought me to tears.
The other characters like Gabriel, Saint, Corinne’s brother, and the mob bosses of the clubs were very well-rounded. They didn’t exist solely to move the plot along and then to vanish when they were no longer useful. They had their own motives and desires that were expressed, and they didn’t always line up with our protagonists’. I particularly loved the portrayal of family in the novel. Both girls were concerned about how their actions affected their families and tried to keep them from harm. The misunderstandings between them were relateable; so too, was the acceptance of them when they made mistakes.
I couldn’t stop reading this book, either. The plot was engaging and was always building toward something, even during the quieter moments. Oftentimes things occurred that I wasn’t prepared for, which is a rare thing for me regarding young adult literature. Things are sometimes done so heavy-handedly that the surprise is completely gone when it comes down to the event. That was not the case with Iron Cast, and it was so nice. It allowed me to truly be immersed in the story.
Another thing that kept me in the story was the lack of a focus on the romance. There was romance, but the book didn’t suddenly become only about the romantic interests the way that some novels sometimes do. It was just a part of the overall novel and it was done beautifully. It allowed me to be invested even more in the characters and the plot when there was unrequited feelings coming into play. Because the romance was not the focus of the novel, the romantic moments were far more sweet and achingly lovely.
I absolutely loved Iron Cast and am going to recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction with a little bit of fantasy, romance, and intrigue. It has great characters and a detailed setting. I emotionally connected to the characters and had a hard time reading certain parts. It’s not often that books make me cry, but when they do I know that I really like them. I’m really looking forward to what Destiny Soria comes up with next, because she’s now on my favorite authors list.
I received a copy of Iron Cast from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Iron Cast will be available on October 11th, 2016.