Iron Cast
Destiny Soria
Amulet Books (October, 2016)

Ada and Corrinne are hemopaths, a secret they hold dear ever since the law against hypnotizing “regs” made using their natural powers of persuasion illegal. Still, that doesn’t stop them from mezmerizing paying customers in their Boston nightclub every evening or from pulling the occasional score. It’s 1919 and tensions are high as prohibition looms and the fear of hemopaths peaks after the girls pull a risky illusion that puts the city on alert.
With the power to create illusions through poetry, painting and music, hemopaths can be dangerous, but when the girls get wind of secrete experiments being performed on hemopaths in an asylym they realize they may have to go on the offensive.
Iron Cast starts off with a jailbreak and it immediately draws you in. With a fresh take on paranormal we get to see how powers manifest when you have a gift for the arts. A character who can hypnotize with Lewis Carroll? Who wouldn’t love that? We also get a dash of diversity as one of the main character’s is biracial, but while her inclusion seems genuine (as opposed to a publishing ploy to jump on the so-called diversity “trend”) her immigrant background doesn’t seem to be given it’s proper due with an African mother and Italian father.

Sometimes I think authors make their diverse character biracial to avoid having to speak to a certain experience with authenticity (American black girls can be vicious in their scrutiny [speaking from experience]) and to give their book a better chance at being sold. This really isn’t fair to those living the biracial experience. I’ve also noticed the non-American black parent used in more than one novel. You’re avoiding the taint of slavery and the effects of racism on everyday black folks and the way they live. If that’s what you’re doing it’s best to just stick to what you know. The immigrant experience is specific as well and you’ll get called out on that too.

The novel is filled with crime and the nature of family and secrets, which can be loads of fun, but the suspense could have been heightened if some scenes were shortened. I wouldn’t recommend this to reluctant readers or those looking for a strong romance. However, those fantasy lovers looking for something a little different will definitely like where the author takes them.

This book is perfect for:
  • Fans of Six of Crows ( I know that’s everyone’s go-to review for everything, but in this case it’s true) will love it’s fresh take on paranormal powers.
  • Historical fiction lovers who don’t get enough of the post World War I era in the US

Discussion Questions
  1. Discuss how a hemopath whose power stems from dance would work.
  2. Hemopaths are allergic to iron, look around the room and discuss how a hemopath would function in the modern world.
  3. Corrinne suggests a kind of coming out of the closet for hemopaths. Why or Why isn’t this a good idea?
  4. Gabriel is hiding a big secret, as is everyone else. Is there anyone who can be trusted?
  5. Asylums were presented as humane housing alternatives for undesirable people in 1919. Can you think of any spaces in the modern era that do the same?
If you like this try:
Diverse historical fiction isn’t easy to find and you’re not always going to be happy with what you get. Many times the fiction can have twinges of racial and cultural stereotypes along with unrealistic situations based on the era. Fear not! You’ll love this collection of tales from fantastic YA authors who give you pirates, paranormal and more, all set in the past.
Scott Bradlee’s Post-Modern Jukebox
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