Iron Cast is a historical paranormal YA about two girls, Ada Navarra and Corinne Wells, who are hemopaths. This is a blood talent that manifests itself in the arts (acting, painting, music, recital- not sure about dance) and allows them to cast illusions. It is highly illegal, and the girls are part of an underground club/ con ring.
It is not possible to talk about Iron Cast without acknowledging that diversity, especially when it comes to fantasy, is thin on the ground. Iron Cast has a cast of characters who are racial, sexually, economically, politically, and morally diverse. I liked that Ada was black and Saint was gay without it having to be a tragedy or the focal point of their story. It was part of them without being ALL of them which felt realistic. All the characters were very modern in their actions, thoughts, and speech which might be anachronistic.
I loved the idea of an alternative 1919, Boston setting. I would have liked some more detail. What detail there is really stands out. Winding up the cars for example. There just wasn't enough.
Both main characters are engaging. I loved that they had a positive and supportive female friendship. They didn't bicker over silly things or tear one another down. Ada was more introspective and controlled while Corrinne was impulsive and confident. It is interesting that although both girls seem to think that Corrinne is the leader of the duo Ada is a much steadier and a more reliable decision maker. She was far more often in charge, and when she wasn't, it was because she was trying to prevent Corinne from acting without thinking.
Iron Cast is a very plot based book. Things continually happened to the main characters rather than the characters happening to the events. That might not be clear. It was written more as a thriller/mystery style rather than as an examination of character. I think that this hurt the story. Every character that wandered across the page was interesting enough that I wanted to know more about them. Unfortunately, we never really get to know any of the characters. This book might have benefitted from an alternating first person narration to increase the intimacy of the story.
There is also a lot of telling and not showing. You can see this especially in the politics between the different clubs. The competition and animosity could have been shown very easily, but almost all the exposition was given in conversation.
Overall I enjoyed Iron Cast. It was fast paced, I like the characters, the diversity rocked, and the concept was really cool. It wasn't perfect. I would have been happier with about a hundred more pages of world building, character development, and historical detail. I was that interested in the parts of the story that the author just didn't have the time to tell. I enjoyed her writing style and her sense of humor. I will be looking for more books by Destiny Soria (I think this is her first book?) in the future because I believe that she is someone to watch out for.
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.