Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review - The Iron Thorn (The Iron Codex, Book 1) by Caitlin Kittredge (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Steampunk
Size: 512 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0385738293
Stand Alone or Series: First book in the Iron Codex series
Source: Bought
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Iron Codex series by Kittredge. It is the first book in a planned trilogy. The second book, The Nightmare Garden, is scheduled for a February 2012 release. This book was a wonderful blend of fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, and gothic elements. I absolutely fell in love with the world and the characters.

The city of Lovecraft is ruled by the Protors and powered by The Great Engine. The necrovirus is blamed for an epidemic of madness that affect certain citizens, it is also said to be the cause for the dark creatures that hunt in the streets at night. Aoife is a ward of the state and one of the only girls to make it into the School of Engines; the most prestiguous school in Lovecraft. Aoife's family has a dark history though; they carry latent necrovirus and go mad at their sixteenth birthday. Aoife's 16th birthday is just around the corner and she will have to unravel the dark secrets of her family and face the darkness in Lovecraft if she even has a chance at staying sane.

This book is dark and gothic, full of wonderful descriptions that create beautiful and haunting imagery. I loved Lovecraft; I wanted to visit Lovecraft and along with Aoife explore the dark alleys and secrets. It was just a wonderful blend of steampunk, gothic, and dystopian elements. Not to mention madness as a contagious virus; it sends chills up my spine just thinking about it.

Aoife herself is an incredibly entertaining character. She is trying to be a good girl; but she is just too smart and too tough to not do what she has to do to survive. She has a good balance of courage, smarts, occasional vulnerability, and daring. She isn't your typical kick-butt heroine but she has a core of steel to her personality and she is willing to the extra mile when she has too. I loved her fascination with engineering and gears; it was nice to see a female heroine in this role. Aoife was an incredibly realistic and multi-dimensional character and I loved her.

There is a bit of a love triangle going on here. Although that didn't bother me because it was well done and Aoife's choice was clear from the start. Cal comes off as a nagging but loyal friend until you discover he has secrets of his own. Dean is a bit of a mystery but the respect with which he treats Aoife and the way he supports her when she has tough decisions to make made him one of my favorite male leads.

Now as if the setting of Lovecraft wasn't awesome enough, Kittredge throws in Aoife's father's clockwork house. A house that is nearly living and breathing all on its own. On top of that we get honest to goodness fairies involved in the story as well. I love stories that have fairies in them, and unlike some YA books, this book doesn't shy away from the dark side of fairy.

The story ends well, but there is a lot more to be settled. There were so many wonderful things in this book, so many twists and turns. I can't wait to read the next one!

Overall I loved, loved, loved this book. The world is incredibly complex and interesting, but never confusing. There are a ton of creative elements in this story. The characters are very well done; I loved them all. The story is a perfect blend of steampunk, gothic, dystopian, mystery, and fantasy elements. I recommend to anyone who loves dark fantasy or steampunk. I would actually recommend to everyone, but those who don't like a heavy dark element in their stories might want to look elsewhere.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Dystopia Reading Challenge
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge
- Steampunk Reading Challenge

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