The Bookanistas: The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

What Amazon Says: In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft’s epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson’s family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

What Scott Says:

A preface.  I have been dying for this book since I first read the PM announcement several years ago.  The Iron Thorn combines the best parts of Lovecraft, steampunk, urban fantasy and an alternative history (it’s set in Massachusetts).  Maybe even a little Poe for atmosphere.  I’ve been a fan of the Cthulhu Mythos since college – the idea that a group of writers created a constantly shifting world with such a bleak, instrospective view.  It’s a cosmology that wonders “what if we are truly insignificant, mere ants compared to the godlike alien entities that travel the stars.”

But the Mythos in The Iron Thorn is subtle.  Another reason why I like it so much.  If you’re a fan, you’ll smile and nod when Yog-Sothoth is mentioned.  But it doesn’t dominate the story.

Aoife’s outlook is bleak – she’s destined to go mad, just like her mother and brother before her.  The journey she sets out on is dark, and it stays that way.   In her family, there is a strain of the necrovirus (the contaminating virus that turns people into monsters) that turns you crazy once you turn sixteen.  And in her case, that expiration date is only a few weeks away.  Aoife’s enrollment in the School of Engines gives us a good chance to glimpse the steampunk elements at play, and we hear talk of the great Engine that powers the city, deep underground.  Aoife’s journey has no promise of a happily ever after – just a promise of a “maybe not as bad as it could be.”

This is a big book, and that’s not always everyone’s cup of tea.  But the plot keeps moving at a rapid clip – there are never any sections that seem to drag without anything happening.   This is a world of monsters and darkness, and that atmosphere pervades from start to finish.  Every element of the world building felt like it had been carefully considered, which was refreshing and fun.  Once I finished, I wanted to immediately go back, and read it again, and pull apart all the things that the author had woven together, and just admire the symmetry of it all.

Like I said, I went into this book desperate to read it.  The concept was right up my alley.  If you like dark books, and you like steampunk or alternative histories, then this is the book for you.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are doing:

Elana Johnson shines a light on Clarity

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Shannon Messenger loves 13 Reasons Why – with a signed book giveaway!

Shelli Johannes Wells joins The Liar Society

Kirsten Hubbard raves over these March releases

Michelle Hodkin introduces some marvelous March books

Myra McEntire invites The Liar Society authors Lisa & Laura Roecker into the fort

Beth Revis is mad for Matched

Carolina Valdez Miller delights in Delirium

Jessica Kirby adores Across the Universe

Megan Miranda peers into Sean Griswold’s Head

Bethany Wiggins marvels at Matched

Shana Silver is a super stop on The Liar Society blog tour

Gretchen McNeil celebrates The Liar Society

Carrie Harris buzzes about Blessed

Rosemare Clement-Moore falls for Falling Under

Katie Anderson shows cover love for Possess

Matt Blackstone is ecstatic over Edges

Stasia Ward Kehoe is wild for What Happened to Goodbye

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3 thoughts on “The Bookanistas: The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

  1. Gah! I had this book and had to pass it on as I’d just gotten a ton of ARCs all at once, but didn’t want to hog them all. Blah! Now I want it back! Sounds like a dark read, but royally intriguing and clever. Super review, Scott!

  2. Yes, I just received it from Carol and I’m about 1/3 through and I’m totally adoring it so far! It’s awesome! I wasn’t sure if I’d like Steampunk but I do! Oh, I do!!!

  3. Pingback: Faster, Author! Kill, kill! « Caitlin Kittredge

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