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 found Iron Cast to be a very entertaining read. While I found it just a little bit slow in the beginning, the characters were so interesting and the concept was amazing that I had to keep reading just to see how everything played out. I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s why:
All of the hemopaths perform their magic through their art. Ada can make you see whatever she wants you to by playing the violin and singing. Corine can do the same by reciting poetry. Others—known as thespians—can take the form of any other person, and the list goes on and on. Because the Boston elite has cracked down on hemopaths, they’ve all been forced to go underground and perform in secret.
I am admittedly a sucker for things set in the 1920’s era. Even though this technically takes place one year before the decade begins, all of the visual cues are there from Corine’s outfits to the descriptions in the jazz clubs. As a history nerd, I also enjoyed how the impending doom of Prohibition lingered over all of the characters and had a profound effect on the plot and the motivations of the characters. A lot of action takes place in the Haversham Asylum for Afflictions of the Blood, and I must say it upped the creepy factor.
Speaking of the characters, Iron Cast was well cast (pun completely intended). Each one had their own personality that came through in their dialogue and their actions. Corine had a pretty shaky relationship with her family because of her “condition”, and some of my favorite scenes involved how those relationships unfolded. I also really liked minor characters such as Corine’s older brother, Gabriel (newcomer to the Cast Iron Club and romantic interest for one of the characters), and Saint (the shy, redheaded painter who surprised me time and time again). Yeah. I have a soft spot for Saint.
There are characters in this novel who are wealthy, poor, homosexual, from a foreign country, white, and black. To say that this was refreshing would be an understatement.
The relationship between Corine and Ada is so well written and everything you want in #friendshipgoals. They play off of one another really well and complement each other’s characteristics. I mean, I just loved it when they were sarcastic with one another or when one of them was acting foul then the other would snap them out of it. Also, they both had their own relationships, but romance never interfered with their friendship—which was such a relief.
The plot twists
Usually, I can see things coming. But there were at least 2-3 instances in this book when I was like, “whaaaaat?” I can honestly say that the plot twists were realistic and didn’t seem to just come out of nowhere in a deus ex machina kind of way.
To be fair, I do have a few criticisms. This is not a spoiler, but there was a character death that didn’t have an impact on me like the author might have wanted. I get how the character was important to the others in the novel, but as a reader I didn’t get enough time with this person and really didn’t feel a deep connection with the character in regards to that person’s role with the rest of the group. Also, I don’t mind alternating POV’s, but sometimes I couldn’t tell whether I was in Ada’s perspective or Corinne’s perspective because it sometimes switched between them in the same section. It felt a little like head hopping even though it technically might not have been.
Iron Cast is not what I would call a “typical” YA novel, and I mean that in the best way. It was refreshing to not see a love triangle or another type of trope where the women/girls need saving. In this story, the women were the ones leading the charge and making the big decisions, and their love lives didn’t take center stage. I think this is a solid book for young adult fantasy and in my book (pun completely intended) Iron Cast gets major bonus points for having a woman of color on the cover.
Iron Cast can be purchased here.
Kyndal is a free spirit who finds it very hard to describe herself. Tea Snob. Daydreamer. History, Fantasy, & Book Blerd. Cursed with Wanderlust. Jams to show tunes. Obsessed with Hamilton (the musical). Always on the advent of her next adventure.