Monday, March 28, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

 (Book #1 in Iron Codex Series)
Genre: YA fantasy/ steampunk 
Pages: 492 (hardcover)
Published: February 2011 by Delacorte Books 
Recommended for: readers who like any fantasy sub-genre: faeries, steampunk, sci-fi, historical, you name it!

This is a real hodgepodge of a YA fantasy: steampunk, faeries, alternate world, ghouls, and magical powers all included!  In most any other book, I would say that's a few too many things going on at once, but The Iron Thorn pulls off the blending of fantasy spheres to create one giant, Lovecraft-inspired world beautifully.  The pace is slower than a lot of YA books, but I truly enjoyed reading every one of its 500 pages!

Aoife Grayson (somebody on Goodreads said it's pronounced 'ee-fah', and I'm going to take their word for it) resents her mad mother Neressa, locked away in a city asylum, for living in her world of fantasies and delusions.  The Grayson family is cursed to become infected with the necrovirus-- an all-consuming madness on their sixteenth birthdays--, but Aoife's determined to become an engineer, a practical, successful citizen  in the city of Lovecraft, Massachusetts, where steampunk is commonplace and anything even remotely magical is heresy.  But when a note written by her mad missing brother arrives at the School of Engines, Aoife must venture into the unknown in order to find him.  
 With her friend Cal tagging along, Aoife enlists the help of Dean Harrison, a charming and decidedly heretical young man who makes a living leading people outside the grimy city of Lovecraft.  Pursued by Proctors and horrible clockwork crows, the trio make their way to the mansion of the father Aoife and her brother never knew.  There, Aoife must decipher the age-old books in the attic of the clockwork house.  She searches the past for answers about the bizarre power-- called a Weird-- which is manifesting in her, even while her future is ridden with doubt and bleak prospects.  Her sixteenth birthday is fast approaching and when a sinister faerie approaches Aoife, threatening her family and everything she knows, she must learn to harness her great and heretical power-- or lose everyone she loves and eek out the rest of her life in a Lovecraft madhouse.    

The premise of this book and the gorgeous cover immediately seized my attention, and I knew I had to have it!  Caitlin Kittredge writes so beautifully, with prose that makes the whole book unfold like a film in your head.  I love the way she writes both steampunk and the realm of the Fey.  Tremaine is just the coolest, delightfully awful-est villain-- he's the sinister faerie guy, btw, without giving any spoilers away.  The monsters, both faerie and steampunkish, were perfectly eerie and creative.  Aoife wasn't my favorite heroine ever, partly because she was a little wishy-washy, and partly because I had to keep scanning over her impossibly name. (Every time I read it, I sort of went 'blah, blah' in my head.)  Dean, her main love interest, is just beyond awesome and incredibly charming.  I even loved the little maid girl at Aoife's father's mansion.  So definitely a 5/5 as far as characters are concerned! 

The pacing is a bit slow, particularly towards the middle, but I felt this was a story which needed to be 500 pages long, rather than being excessive.  There are plenty of plot twists and shocking revelations along the way, though I saw a few of them coming.  This is the sort of enthralling, all-consuming book which one should savor as much as possible-- perfect for reading by candlelight during a stormy night or lugging along with you wherever you go.  I absolutely loved The Iron Thorn, and cannot wait to see if there's going to be a sequel (as the major cliffhanger ending strongly suggests).    

Cover: 5/5
Premise: 5/5 
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5 
Overall Rating: 5/5


Annette said...

Great review. It made me want to put this on my TBR.

Audra said...

In Boston, I've heard it pronounced ee-va as well -- regardless, it's an interesting name! I am totally in desperate love with this book based on it's cover, it's location, and your review! Thanks for putting this one on my radar!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, awesome review. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! (:

Laura (All of Everything) said...

This sounds pretty epic!
Unfortunately I missed picking this one up at the library, so I gotta wait all over again. Great to hear it's worth it though!

Ava said...

Great review! It makes me extremely excited to get a hold of this book, I've had my eye on it for awhile. :)

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