I requested this book on NetGalley a while ago now and it was sat on my Kindle getting no love whilst I tried to talk myself into getting excited for my ARCs again. I couldn’t figure out how to review this book because I really enjoyed it but how do you explain that properly? How do you put into words what clicked with this book which get people to read another debut? Then I remembered my 5 reasons reviews and figured that was perfect.
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
Here are five excellent reasons to give it a go.
Friendship! Because You Can Never Have Too Many Friends
Look, when the book begins with a letter from the author explaining she wanted to write a book about friendship then you know you’re in for a good book. Destiny Soria stated the heart of this story is the friendship between Ada and Corinne and she is completely right, it is. There is romance and family drama and a bunch of really interesting characters but the heart of this novel lies in that friendship between Ada and Corinne. These are two girls who couldn’t have had a more different upbringing who are best friends. They may not have always known each other and they most definitely do not always like each other but they are always there covering one another's back.
I loved that this book included a genuine female friendship that was not overshadowed by a romance and there was no fighting over a boy. They were just two girls struggling in a world which seemed to be against them. They didn’t always bring out the best in each other (best friends can always bring out your ugly side too) but they certainly tried to do the best they could and they always looked out for one another (even if the other one thought that they were wrong).
Diverse Cast Who Aren’t Afraid To Address Issues
I liked that this wasn’t a whitewashed cast of characters but instead an interesting collection from black characters as well as characters from other parts of the world who were also part of a minority (I feel like specifying who it is and where they’re from my count as a spoiler so I am keeping schtum).
I loved that inequality was also highlighted in the book. Be it the fact one character was part of a nationality of immigrants who were marginalised and looked down upon. Then there was Ada who was not only a mixed race character who had enough stigma from being black in a country that has a long history of racism, but also had a mixed heritage with one black parent and one white so she had a whole other set of stigmas placed upon her growing up and that shows in her personality in the book. And let's not forget the book had two gay characters in there as well and their struggles to be together with dealt with so well taking into consideration the period it was set in. This book had it all but none of it ever felt like it was just added in for brownie points.
I mean, this book was obviously dealing with social stigma from the fact hemopaths have basically been outlawed but there was no hesitance about addressing other issues either! I mean, surely any idiot can see the parallels, right?
It Was Historical
I full on had flashbacks to history lessons. This book is set during the run up to prohibition and during a time when asylums were still a well known and acceptable kind of institution. I mean, it was all so interesting and seemed pretty well researched (although, as I am not an expert I cannot say that with any kind of authority).
I mean, the set up for hemopaths and the banning of them performing seemed a logical set up for prohibition. It was done so intelligently that I really loved it.
Look, I Love Criminals
Look, I am a sucker for criminals and con artists and they are here in abundance in this book. I do feel cheated that there are a couple of characters I would have liked to know better, but the ones we did get to know I loved.
I mean, Ada and Corinne with the perfect criminal double act because who would suspect them? They are con artists but they have morals and they are lovely about it. And the people who they live with? They have questionable morals but you can’t help but like them. They little club gang is sweet and I loved them for it. They all have their own roles but they all seem to be leading a life of crime to help one another. Who can hate on a crook with heart?
Family Is Important!
This may seem like a random reason to love a book but I don’t care. The fact is I loved the various family dynamics of this book. There was Ada’s family, who were very close when she was younger who she has drifted away from for various reasons. There is her amazing mother who adored to bits and her father who I adored from the brief mentions of him. Then there was Corinne and her family and how she felt utterly other from them and the connection they had (seriously, that family has a lot of issues but I wanted to hug them a bit towards the end). And then there was Gabriel and his mother, his family dynamic was sweet and didn’t scream mama’s boy even though it totally should have.
Outside of the actual blood family there was the family these characters had chosen in the form of the club and it’s members and those they began to welcome into their circle. I really loved how you had the contrast between born and and chosen family and those who Ada and Corinne to keep close to them.
Basically, I could go on for a while. I really liked this book and it’s a debut I strongly recommend. Go read it now!
Have you read Iron Cast? What were your thoughts? What was the best really good debut you’ve read lately?