Iron Cast Review: Racism, Historical Boston and Hemopathy

February 24, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

Iron Cast Review: Racism, Historical Boston and HemopathyIron Cast by Destiny Soria
Published by Amulet Books on October 11, 2016
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Historical, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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In 1919, Ada Navarra—the intrepid daughter of immigrants—and Corinne Wells—a spunky, devil-may-care heiress—make an unlikely pair. But at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, anything and everything is possible. At night, on stage together, the two best friends, whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art, weave magic under the employ of Johnny Dervish, the club’s owner and a notorious gangster. By day, Ada and Corinne use these same skills to con the city’s elite in an attempt to keep the club afloat.
When a “job” goes awry and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes they’re on the precipice of danger. Only Corinne—her partner in crime—can break her out of Haversham Asylum. But once Ada is out, they face betrayal at every turn.

Oh man, this book has so much potential but unfortunately it fell short for me. Set in 1900s Boston with a touch of the supernatural, it sounded like a diverse The Diviners (which I loved), but there wasn’t that much happening in the plot to keep me interested.

There were many elements of the book I enjoyed. The first was the diversity, having both main characters, Corinne and Ada, experience racism and marginalisation being women of colour. Both girls have strained relationships with their families, especially their parents, which forms a catalyst for their close friendship. Ada is Portuguese and Swahali, and it was interesting seeing the language and her heritage being explored, which forms part of her mannerisms and her personality.

I thought the hemopathy aspect of the book was fascinating; I’ve never seen it explored before and it was interesting seeing it compared to witchery and psychic abilities. Corinne recites poetry to make see illusions or forget certain things, and Ada can manipulate emotions through playing music. The cost to having these abilities is infected blood which makes them adverse to iron, thereby making it difficult to live everyday life. Hemopaths are misunderstood and are often shunned by people in fear of their abilities, although I wish there was more back story and explanation behind it. It wasn’t until 60% of the book had passed when hemopathy was finally explained, but this wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity.

“If we’re in this together, then they don’t stand a chance”.

The plot heavily revolves around the activities of the Cast Iron club which the girls call their home. Many hemopaths have found Cast Iron as their sanctuary, due to the owner Johnny providing a safe haven for them. In exchange, the inhabitants of the Cast Iron club use their abilities to swindle local folk to keep the club running. As such as a large focus of the story, it was strange not hearing more about the activities of the Cast Iron club and the more unsavoury events and characters which are apparently a part of it. We barely got to see any interactions with Johnny, leading to a detachment to him.

Close girl friendships are something that I always welcome in a novel, and it was wonderful seeing Corinne and Ada care for each other. Their friendship definitely shone as they supported each other throughout every endeavour. I thought the love interests were unnecessary and rather dull though. I didn’t feel any chemistry between any of the couples and it definitely felt forced in some instances.

My biggest with Iron Cast, is the lack of focus for the plot and the dull and repetitive writing. There isn’t really a strong plot point, resulting in unnecessarily detail given to miniscule events, such as putting on a coat and a character’s feelings about one’s family member. The book dragged for me and I wanted more world building and detail – in particular why the Cast Iron club was established, how Johnny found the girls, more secondary character development and more back story behind the hemopaths and how they came to be.

While I enjoyed the diversity, hemopathy and female friendship in Iron Cast, I found the overall reading experience to be rather dull, especially as the plot didn’t seem to move anywhere. There were so many elements of it that had great potential, but I wanted more detail to really immerse myself into the world. If you enjoy historical fiction with a supernatural twist, you might enjoy Iron Cast more than I did.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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24 responses to “Iron Cast Review: Racism, Historical Boston and Hemopathy

  1. Awww, sorry this didn’t work out for you! I actually enjoyed this more, but looking back, I can definitely see where the holes were. I feel like it wasn’t fully fleshed out as I wanted it to be, but I still enjoyed it at least. And hmm, I haven’t read The Diviners, or think about checking it out. I should get on that.
    Valerie recently posted…Why Is Blogging Hard All Of A Sudden?My Profile

    • Yeah, I guess I had high hope but unfortunately all the elements clashed for me! I loved how unique it was but it definitely didn't help my reading slump.

  2. Aw boo, I am sorry this one didn’t work out for yoU! I think I actually liked it a little more than I expected to, though I did find the beginning a bit hard to slog through for sure! But I think the historical bits and the friendships and really, the commentary on our current social climate was enough to keep me entertained. I do hope your next book works out better for you, and I totally get where you are coming from here! Great review
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Dual Review: February Mental Health BooksMy Profile

    • Jeann

      Ugh I keep on pushing the wrong button before I've finished my comment (this is me testing from another browser), but yeah there was definitely a lot happening here to keep you entertained! Unfortunately I read it in the middle of my reading slump and it definitely didn't help at all!

  3. I’m sad to hear this was slow. The cover is so pretty, I was drawn to this immediately, but I usually like books that keep a quick pace. Glad to see a book that focuses on female friendships, I think they often get lost in novels (especially if there’s romance), but it sounds like this book needed more plot development.
    Lauryn April recently posted…Unpopular Opinion Book TagMy Profile

    • Yeah, there were a lot of great elements to it but it didn\’t really translate to a smooth story during it. I prefer books that have fast pacing too, or at least plot advancement.

    • Yeah, historical fiction feels a bit thicker to me for some reason and it\’s kind of hard to get through? Thanks Ksenia!

  4. ohsucks, I was actually hoping to read this one. I like the sound of the diversity for this book and the hemopathy aspect sounds interesting. But supernatural on historical isn’t exactly my strongest point. The dull and unmoving story puts me off more though. But I might still consider it at some point (’cause historical!!).
    czai recently posted…[REVIEW] The Season of You & MeMy Profile

    • Yesss, if you are a fan of historical fiction you\’d fare well with this one I think, because of all the details about the setting and everything. Although it had more of a focus on the hemopathy side of things.

  5. I have an ARC of this that I’ve been meaning to read for ages now, but haven’t gotten around to. Part of me might be kind of glad about that, too, considering the fact that you mentioned the writing is repetitive. I have a pet peeve for repetitive writing, so I might even skip this one altogether. It did sound like it had lots of potential though. Nice review!
    Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings recently posted…Review: A Good Idea by Cristina MorachoMy Profile

    • Ohhh, yeah I was surprised there wasn\’t much hype for this one, but now I can see why! I was definitely excited because it had potential, but it wasn\’t for me (although others seemed to love it!)

    • I know, I\’m pretty disappointed because so many fellow bloggers were keen on it but it just wasn\’t my cup of tea! You might still enjoy it Bec!

    • It was definitely a fascinating concept but it just didn\’t seem to go anywhere for me! Other people seemed to enjoy it though. Thanks Jessica!

  6. Great review! I absolutely love historical fiction with supernatural elements, so I’ll probably give this book a try. It is disappointing going into it knowing there isn’t much elaboration on hemopathy and why Cast Iron was formed though so I probably won’t move it to the top of my TBR.

    • Oooh, it kind of sounds like something that you might enjoy then Kitty if supernatural historical fiction is your thing!

  7. Eep, I’m kind of glad I haven’t rushed out after this one yet then. I REALLY want to read it for the POC cast and female friendships and magic (MAGIC IS THE BEST THO) but I’m not really good with historical fiction generally. And I didn’t love the Diviners. So I might just wait and hope my library gets it.

    • Oh man, if you weren\’t a fan of The Diviners (which I loved over this one), I don\’t know if this one would be up your alley! Although there are so many great elements of the book, you never know.