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Boston. 1919. Evenings at the Cast Iron club are full of music, booze, and patrons looking for a carefree night of escape. But by day, the musicians and artists who reside at the Cast Iron use their peculiar talents to con money from influential Bostonians in order to save their failing establishment from the looming threat of Prohibition. When the owner of the Cast Iron is killed, Ada and Corrine suspect a rival club may be behind the murder, or perhaps their illegal activities may have finally caught up with them. Either way, these young best friends are determined to find out what happened to their leader, Johnny Dervish, and save the Cast Iron--their beloved home and safe space--from going under. Even if it means facing the threat of imprisonment at the notorious Haversham Asylum.
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5  

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What initially drew me the story, other than the historical setting, was the interesting idea of hemopathy, a condition with which our protagonists Ada and Corrine as well as others at the Cast Iron are afflicted. Hemopaths are people whose blood has a painfully debilitating aversion to iron. However, hemopaths also have artistic gifts that when performed give them the ability to project any image they like into the mind of a normal person. Corrine is a wordsmith who recites poetry and Ada is a songstress who sings and plays the violin. The pair have gotten away with some of the largest cons in the city. The unlikely duo are equally charming and tough in their own right. Ada is the daughter of immigrant parents. Reserved and sensible, she is nearly the exact opposite of Corrine, a brash, blonde from a very wealthy Boston family. The girls' playful, sarcastic banter as well as their fierce loyalty to each other in the face of danger were my favorite aspects of these characters. Their friendship was both relatable and incredibly endearing.

As much as I liked the main characters and rooted for them throughout the story, the plot was just not good. The first chapter was excellent--a high-stakes breakout from the feared hemopath asylum--but all the exciting momentum from the opening chapter goes to waste as the plot slows to a crawl that never attains that initial thrill again. It's quite sad because this debut novel had a lot of potential with great characters, a setting full of possibilities, and interesting powers that appeal to readers (like me) who don't typically wander into the magical fantasy genre. Iron Cast also touches on racism, class, and homosexuality with uncharacteristically modern tolerance. I also appreciated that the story stays pretty tame in the romance department for a young adult novel. What is lacking is the sense of atmosphere. We're talking about the jazz era, prohibition is on the horizon... Just look at the beautiful book cover! Sadly, the story could have taken place in any city in any decade and I probably wouldn't have known the difference. For a historical fiction fan, how very disappointing indeed. Iron Cast was full of promise but ultimately turned out to be a boring and forgettable debut novel.

#1 - The Assistants by Camille Perri
#2 - Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax
#3 - The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
#4 - Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

NEXT BOOK: #5 - Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee