Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.
I enjoyed Iron Cast for its historical and magical elements. The setting of 1919 Boston is really vivid and I felt like I was running the streets with the characters. My only problems with this book are the two main characters. I felt like Corinne and Ada were the same, speaking wise. I never knew who was narrating at certain points, so it was a little confusing. However, the girls do stand out in terms of race and background. I love the way that the author used hemopathy (pathological state of the blood) as the form of magic in this story: illusions through music and the arts made it stand out. Not saying this book is similar to Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose’ Older or Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but I got the same feelings when I read those books. I love the large cast of characters, the friendships, the danger and the light romance.
What I Liked
Strong female friendships is something that I look forward to in young adult books, and Destiny Soria did an amazing job on that front. Ada and Corinne are some ride-or-die girls, to put it lightly. They had each others backs, even when sometimes it felt like the truth was too hard to take. That’s the thing about best friends, they tell you the truth, even if it hurts.
The diversity, while not a lot, is well represented. The characters come from all walks of life. Ada is biracial- her parents are immigrants from two countries, Europe and East Africa, who speak Portuguese and Swahili – hence the cover model (which I just love). Then there’s Saint who is obviously gay, but isn’t broadcasting it all over Boston. He’s painfully shy and loves his art. Charlie, the African-American from down South who has his own past. Gabrielle’s status (which I can’t say to avoid spoilers) added more mystery to the story. I didn’t really take to his character. He rubbed me the wrong way from start to finish. This story also deals with racism, which this country has seen too much of, but it makes sense to put it in this story as it was a big part of history during that time.
This is pre-prohibition era Boston, and the author describes the scenes really well. Johnny, the “savior” of hemopaths, adds even more mystery to this tale. Everything is a bit shady and I love the tone of the overall plot. Also, the asylum aspect gave it a kind of gothic feel. I was so caught up with just wanting to find out what was happening down in the basement! If you are a hemopath, you have no chance in this world. Experimentation and unethical treatment is just half of it.
The cons pulled gave a distinct danger. I also love that the characters are all mature for them to be teens. When you are trying to stay alive, you grow up early. I think being around the bar and Johnny helped them to understand people more. Ada and Corinne, especially, seemed much older than the others.
Props to the author for the little Alabama snippet! If you don’t know, I live about 2 hours southwest of Birmingham. I always find it a little funny that we have a statue of Vulcan, (the god of fire) holding……. well, anything. To have a character from down South in this story makes the feel of early 20th century in America more noted. Many people migrated North to get away from the poisonous South. Although, racism exists in Boston, it wasn’t anything like Jim Crow Era South. Charlie was a much needed character, in my opinion. His and Ada’s romance had nothing to do with it. Seriously, nothing at all. No matter how much I swooned when they were together. 🙂
What I Didn’t Like
As I stated before, Ada and Corinne seemed interchangeable when narrating. I think that I only figured out who was speaking when Gabriel was in the picture. I knew then, that it was Corinne speaking.
I would have liked more information about the magic system. I understand it’s all about melodies and art, but I wanted to really understand how it worked. Then again, that could just be me and my brain because, while the illusions were being described, I felt like I was in a trance.
I didn’t really care for Gabriel’s and Corinne’s little possible romance. Maybe because I didn’t like him, but I never felt anything.
Absolutely! If you love strong female friendships, diverse characters, a unique magic system, teens pulling off cons, shady asylums and even more shady governments, then this book is for you. I really like this and I could easily slip back into this world that Soria created. Even with the little problems I had with this, I can’t deny that this is a wonderful debut. Destiny Soria is a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait to read more from her.
Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, IRON CAST, will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016.
Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.