Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
Published by: Amulet Books
Format: ARC e-book
Set in 1919, Iron Cast is about best friends, Corinne and Ada, who have magical powers linked to the arts. When Corinne recites poetry, she can conjure illusions. When Ada plays the violin, she can bend your will and change your memories. Their friends, Saint, can pull objects out of what he paints. They are all hemopaths. Together, the girls work in Cast Iron, a club that’s kind of like a speakeasy, but hemopathy is sought, rather than alcohol. Because of their powers, they’re hunted, and the group hunting them down is closing in. The explanation is all great, and the world sounds like an interesting place, but while reading, I struggled to be interested by what was going on, no matter how glorious the girls’ powers were.
P A C I N G
The beginning of the book is so different from the rest. Iron Cast is opened by Corinne attempted to spring Ada from an asylum, which is using iron to torture hemopaths, as like fairies, it hurts for them to touch it. This is dramatic and driven, but by the time the girls pull up to Cast Iron, the pace slows right down, basically to a halt as we’re told how the girls practice their powers.
The slow pacing then continues throughout, with the main plot point being that the boss of Cast Iron was taken and potentially killed, so everyone’s safety is at risk. Although I won’t deny that that seems like a big deal, I wasn’t as gripped as I was on the first page.
F R I E N D S H I P
Interestingly, before the book even begins, there’s a letter addressed ‘Dear Reader’ from the author, explaining that friendship is going to be the most important element of the book, and that she has been very influenced by books that focus on female friendships, and wishes they were more prominent in fiction.
It definitely set the mood and altered the way I went into the book. My expectations for Corinne and Ada’s relationship were suddenly a lot higher than they would have been if I’d have walked straight in without a preface. And, Soria does deliver, making the friendship a non-toxic, mutual respecting thing.
In fact, I wished it was even more prominent, but that might have been too much to ask.
R O M A N C E
There’s not a lot of romance in Iron Cast, but what of it does exist is quite beautiful. Saint and James were a nice pairing that only really revealed itself at the end (LGBT+ = check!) but improved the book overall, and Ada’s relationship with another musician was wonderful. I liked the fact that, even though Ada and Corinne didn’t spend as much time together as a result, it didn’t tear them apart.
Just a sprinkling of romance is always nice.
V E R D I C T
So, while I appreciated the diversity of the book, evident from Ada on the cover (which is gorgeous, side note) the pacing is what really let it down. I thought that the plot got quite bland in the middle though the ending did inject a little of the drama I loved so much at the beginning. Overall, I would recommend Iron Cast for all its great qualities, but be wary that it’s a slow burner.