This week, for me, was an exhausting one. I’m a theatre nerd, and this was show week, so I spent a lot of time backstage. We all needed to entertain ourselves quietly, and so my weapon of choice was a number of library books. This week’s weapon, so to speak, was Destiny Soria’s Iron Cast.
The story takes place in the dimly-lit, at once thrilling and terrifying backdrop of speakeasies and mob headquarters that is the fictionalized Roaring Twenties. The atmosphere is electrically charged and just a little frisson-inducing. We are here in the underworld of Boston, where shadowed corners and illicit activity abound if you know where to look.
One thing that sets this story apart from the other flappers-and-fanfare ’20s tales is the nature of suspicious activity. In this world, people with a so-called ‘affliction of the blood’ have talents of illusion and art. A violin player can make you feel passionate emotion. Someone gifted at reciting poetry can sweep you away into a beautiful illusion. A boy with artistic talent makes portals out of paintings.
The speakeasies in this world, the year before Prohibition passed, serve debatably legal alcohol, but that’s not why people come from miles around. Everyone comes to hear the hemopaths play and sing. They come to lose their ghosts in song, to forget their troubles in a beautiful memory of their past.
The protagonists of this story were interesting, if not quite relatable. Corrine, the devil-may-care heiress by day and poet-reading hemopath by night, is far too outrageous to get away with everything she does. Ada, daughter of immigrants and singer of magical songs, is very protective, to a ridiculous point. Altogether, though, they were enjoyable.
The first hundred or so pages were a drag, but the story picked up after that- right at the point where most people are on to the next one. I frantically read the rest in about an hour and a half. The last thirty pages, however, tried to pack in too much action too quickly.
All in all, the story was a good one, recommended for those who enjoy exciting historical fiction but have a good head for confusing details. It begins with an arrest and ends with a kiss, and there are capers and gunfights and elephants. Three and a half stars.