Review Detail

4.7 2
Young Adult Fiction 1818
Overall rating
Writing Style
A year or so ago, while in another state, I accidentally read the second volume of this series, The Nightmare Garden. I find myself in this situation more often than I should... I could have NOT read it, but it looked so readable that I just could not help but "take a peek". It was worth it, but it took me a while the find the first volume of the Iron Codex series. Needless to say, I have my moments of weakness.

Having read the first two books, I do not hesitate to say that I really, really, really like this series. Why? It puts a new spin on a sort-of post apocalyptic world that is set in the past (1900s) rather than the future. There is a harsh war of sorts that is mentioned, a society governed by pure science and rationality is the only excepted norm, there are brain-washed civilians, things that can only be conceived by nightmares lurk around every corner, and there is a lot of secrecy. But most of all? It's mad.

I find the storyline itself to be very attractive because of the way events are played out. The author made it a point to make the story flow in a set tempo; nothing was happing too fast or too slow. Everything made sense, which is rather odd since the characters found themselves in confusion often, because enough detail was given that anything extremely weird wouldn't seem too much out of the ordinary because of the nature of the world of the Iron Codex series. I love how the classic tale of "humans discover machines and thus try to disprove that magic of any kind ever truly existed" plays out in such a warped and extreme fashion in this novel.

If someone so much whispers the word "magic", they are branded as heretics, burned at the stake or worse (if male), or caged away in a madhouse for experimentation (if female). Anything that cannot be proven by scientific evidence is deemed as witchcraft. It sounds silly, right? But trust me, in the city of Lovecraft, these things are taken seriously. Too seriously. Books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? Burned (really???) because a person would have to be mental to even think of believing something like that.

If I lived in such a world, just the idea of so many works of literature being destroyed would turn me into a madwoman, no magic needed.

The lead adventurer of this story, Aoife (I still don't know how to pronounce her name), is a reasonable young lady with the hopes of being an Engineer in a world where women aren't exactly taken seriously. She's witty, clever, and has magic in her blood when magic is not supposed to exist. Oops! Her journey to find her beloved brother helps her discover far more than her trained rationalist mind wants to make sense of. I adore this girl! Other people see her as a poor and frail orphan girl-woman that can be trampled on, but they have no idea how intelligent she can be. The fact that she can take their insults with a blank face and let them roll off her shoulders makes me want to stand up and clap. And she just becomes even more awesome as you keep reading.

Cal, her best friend, on the other hand... I can't stand him. He's had pretty much everything handed to him on a silver platter, at least compared to Aoife. Not to mention that he's a boy, so in society's eyes, his wrongdoings can be justified. And he sits there saying all these horrid and extremely sexist things to Aoife like, how she'll go mad just like her mother and brother, how she "doesn't have a mother to teach her these things", or how a "nice girl" shouldn't be doing this and that.
I wanted to slap the boy into next year! If I was Aoife, I wouldn't let him anywhere near me. He thinks he can control her, and he tries to stop her from doing things that he's too scared to do. Because, for all his big "man" talks, he's just a sissy who thinks little of women.

“Word of advice, kid. This may be the Wild West down here, but you ain't a cowboy. You're not even a boy in a cowboy suit.”

Well said Dean (Aoife and Cal's guide out of Lovecraft).

In the end, I have to approve of this book and of the series in general. Kittredge did a fine job stirring up my imagination. Such a great job, in fact, that I wrote a lengthy review on The Iron Thorn. If you haven't read this yet and you love dark fantasy, I suggest you add this to your To Be Read list.

[ | @fofwords]
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