Iron Cast by Destiny Soria. ★★★★1/2
I loved this book a lot more than I ever could have predicted. If you have any interest at all in a YA historical fantasy with a focus on female friendship, you should read this book.
Ada Navarra and Corinne Wells are best of friends who preform together at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, the year of 1919. But their performance is no usual routine, for Ada and Corinne are hemopaths – people who’s afflicted blood gives them magical abilities based on the arts. Ada can affect people’s emotions with her music and Corinne can use her poetry recital to craft illusions. But it’s not easy to be a hemopath in Boston of 1919. Performances have been outlawed and while the club still performs illegally, Ada and Corinne have been running cons to make ends meet. At the beginning of Iron Cast, Ada has been captured and imprisoned in one of the institutions designed to be the “humane” solution for the hemopath “problem.” But that’s only the start of the pair’s trouble.
Destiny Soria brilliantly creates her vision of a magical, 1919 Boston. I felt utterly transported into her setting, and while I’m not an expert on the time period, her version rang true to me. Iron Cast takes you from shadowy clubs to splendid ballrooms, and every moment was wonderful. I also really loved the magical system of the book. I’ve seen various other versions of “art as magic” stories, but Iron Cast is undoubtedly my favorite. Soria’s writing really conveys the beauty and emotion of her protagonist’s artwork.
Speaking of emotion, Iron Cast got me so emotional! I don’t think I’m normally this caught up in a story. When things looked bad for our protagonists, I felt panicky and on the edge of my seat. I had to know what happened next! The beginning may have been a bit slow, but by the second half I was practically glued to the pages.
However, the main highlight of Iron Cast was the relationship between Ada and Corinne. It’s unusual to see friendship treated as this important and powerful, especially between female characters. I adored it. I love how much these two girls love each each other and support each other. Together, they are an unstoppable force, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Not only were Ada and Corinne well developed, but the supporting cast was strong as well. I’m writing this review two weeks after reading the book and I can still remember the names of the supporting characters. This is huge for me. I’m also happy with how diverse the cast was in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Ada’s mixed race, and the difficulties of being black and female in 1919 aren’t glossed over. Oh, and doesn’t she look so beautiful on the cover? Honestly, cover love is what drew me to this book in the first place.
Iron Cast isn’t exactly a heist book per se, but it had enough of those elements to keep me happy. While the story stands alone, I hope that Soria decides to write a sequel because I’d love to return to this world and these characters. This is one of those books where I’ll be enthusiastically pushing my copy onto my friends, begging them to read it. I can’t recommend it enough, and I am excited to read whatever Soria writes next!