Iron Cast: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Iron Cast by Destiny SoriaIn 1919 Boston Prohibition is on the verge of making alcohol illegal and hemopathy shows are officially against the law. Thanks to a blood condition hemopaths can perform a variety of illusions through poetry, painting, or music. While it is not illegal to be a hemopath, it is deemed dangerous to regular society and highly restricted.

Best friends Corinne Wells and Ada Navarra have called Johnny Dervish’s club, the Cast Iron, home for years blending their respective talents as a wordsmith and a songsmith both on stage and in cons meant to rustle up enough money to keep the club open.

After a routine job goes awry, Ada is imprisoned in Haversham Asylum, a hemopath prison with dark secrets and dangerous implications for its hemopath inmates. Ada’s escape from Haversham sets off a series of events leaving two Cast Iron workers dead and Dervish in the wind.

With only each other and their talents as hemopaths and con-women to rely on, Ada and Corinne will have to confront uncomfortable truths about Johnny, the Cast Iron, and themselves if they want to keep their freedom in Iron Cast (2016) by Destiny Soria.

Find it on Bookshop.

Iron Cast is Soria’s debut novel.

The narration alternates close third person between Corinne and Ada’s perspectives which highlights and contrasts the girls’ vastly different upbringings. (Corinne comes from a high society family, while Ada’s parents are working class immigrants–her mother is from Mozambique and her father is Portuguese.) Ada and Corinne’s differing perspectives on their work with Johnny Dervish and the use of their hemopath talents add nuance to the story.

An atmospheric combination of alternate history and fantasy complete with vivid descriptions of everything from historic Boston locations to complex hemopath illusions make this fast-paced novel incredibly evocative. A diverse cast of flawed and complex characters striving to do better complement the solid female friendship at the core of this story.

Iron Cast is a simultaneously whimsical and chilling blend of mystery and fantasy. Numerous twists, sweet romance, humor, and strong pathos make Iron Cast even more appealing. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Game of Love and Death by Martha A. Brockenbrough, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, Sorcery and Cecelia by Caroline Stevemer and Patricia C. Wrede, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

You can also read my interview with Destiny Soria!

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in the December 2016 of School Library Journal as a starred review*

Author Interview: Destiny Soria on Iron Cast

Destiny Soria author photoWhen I heard about Pique Week I knew I wanted to be involved. Amulet has a great season including some of most-anticipated Fall 2016 releases. Iron Cast is a historical fantasy set in 1919 Boston where certain people have a blood condition–known has hemopathy–where they can create illusions with art. This fast-paced mystery is a completely evocative and thrilling read and one of my favorite reads this month. I’m thrilled to have Destiny answering some of my questions for Pique Week!

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Destiny Soria (DS): I’ve been writing ever since I was seven or eight years old. In middle school and high school, I started writing Ella Enchanted fan fiction. Gradually, I worked up the courage to write original stories. I finished a few novels over the years (all of them terrible), but finally the year after I graduated college, I finished a draft of a novel that I was truly proud of. I queried the old fashioned way and after a few months signed with my lovely agent, Taylor. That first manuscript was on submission for a long time, and finally I had to reconcile myself with the fact that it probably wasn’t going to sell. While trying to distract myself from that disappointment, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and hit the 50k goal. That was the first draft of Iron Cast.

MP: What was the inspiration for Iron Cast?

DS: My inspiration came from a variety of different sources. I loved the idea of a magic system based in creativity, and I was obsessed with vintage mugshots of grifters and mobsters from the 1920s. And more than anything, I wanted to write a book about two best friends who meant everything to each other.

MP: In Iron Cast Ada can use her violin (or her voice) as songsmith to make people feel whatever emotions she projects and Corinne can create wordsmith illusions by reciting from poetry or other texts. They are just two types of hemopaths. If you lived in the world of Iron Cast would you want to be a hemopath? If so, what kind?

DS: They have their share of troubles, but who could say no to the mystery and glamor of being a hemopath? I already have an overabundance of poems rattling around in my brain, so I think I’d make a pretty good wordsmith. I’d probably just use my talent to convince people I had a pet dinosaur or something though.

MP: Were any locations in Iron Cast inspired by actual places? What kind of research went into bringing your version of 1919 Boston to life in your novel?

DS: Actually, yes! The Mythic Theatre plays a semi-important role in the novel, and it’s based on an old theatre in my hometown of Birmingham, AL called the Lyric. The theatre was sitting vacant for a long time, and I was always strangely enchanted by its derelict presence. They actually just refurbished and reopened it, which is amazing. As for other research, to be honest, I spent a lot of time just stalking through google maps, trying to make sure I had the location of big landmarks right (I had never been to Boston when I wrote it). I also found a detailed map of Boston from 1917 that was invaluable to me.

MP: Can you tell me anything about your next project? (Any chance of a full Mirror House novel down the line?)

DS: I’m working on a YA fantasy right now. I can’t offer any details at the moment, but hopefully soon!

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

DS: Trust your critique partners implicitly. But trust yourself more.

Thanks again to Nicole Brinkley at Pique Beyond for setting this up and thanks to Destiny Soria for answering my questions.

You can see more about Destiny and her books on her website.

You can also check out my review of Iron Cast.

Abrams Books’ launched a new YA website called Pique Beyond! Pique is all about going beyond the book. Not only do they highlight exclusive excerpts and quotes from new and upcoming books, but they peel back the cover and show us the behind-the-scenes stuff: how books are made, what the authors were thinking, and how it all comes together. This week, they’re highlighting all of their newest titles, and let me tell you, they look amazing. Visit the site today at piquebeyond.com or follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @piquebeyond!