Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
I read this absolute gem of a book back in early May and I knew that it was something special. Iron Cast my absolute favorite new release of 2016 (not of course, counting sequels released this year. That's just not fair). I haven't seen nearly enough hype about this book so now, two months before its release, I'm going to try and singlehandedly hype this book as much as possible.
Iron Cast is a gorgeously written historical fantasy taking place in 1919 Boston, Massachusetts just before Prohibition. Our main characters are two best friends, Ada Narvarra and Corinne Wells. Ada and Corrine live and work in a nightclub called the Cast Iron—a club known for its illegal hemopathy shows. Ada and Corrine are hemopaths—people whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to weave magic into illusions through art. Corinne and Ada can make anyone feel and see anything using their abilities, and they spend their free time pulling cons. When a con goes sour, only Ada's best friend Corinne can break her out of Haversham Asylum, a place designed to "rehabilitate" hemopaths.
I don't know where to begin to describe my love of this book. The tight-knit friendship between Ada and Corinne is the focus of this story. They are so fiercely protective of one another. When they are working together, whether in a performance or a con, the writing is completely immersive. The way they protect each other, support each other, love each other, and will do anything for each other is wonderful. The peripheral cast is a found-family of characters, all of whom possess a unique skill set and vibrant personality. There is not a single character in this book that I felt wasn't fully fleshed out, and that's so rare for me to find. Charlie, Saint, James, Madeline, and even Gabriel are characters that I'd like to be friends with in reality.
The magic in this book is really what makes it shine. Hemopathy is absolutely gorgeous to read, and it's fascinating how each character uses it differently. Ada uses music to create feelings, Corinne uses poetry to convey illusions, and there are even characters who can disguise themselves as anyone, just using their abilities. When Ada and Corinne are performing at the Cast Iron, I can see and feel what they want us to see and feel. It's absolutely mesmerizing. It's an amazing magic system and I was so throughly impressed.
This book also deals with racism in multiple ways. Not only are hemopaths seen as an inferior race, Ada is biracial, with Portuguese and Swahili parents. Corinne has privileges that Ada will never have, and she recognizes and uses those privileges to help Ada. Iron Cast is diverse in many ways, and for that reason the book really shines.
Ada and Corinne's adventures were action-packed and beautifully plotted. Other than working for a high-level mobster named Johnny Dervish in a nightclub performing illegal hemopathy, the duo spend their days conning the wealthy elite of Boston. The plot twists and incredible world-building went healthily in hand with the historical time period and rich descriptions of Boston.
If none of these things make you want to read this book, then I've failed you. Please, I implore you, read this book. Support diversity. Read this wonderful book.
Thanks for reading!