Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittridge

Published: February 2011 Publisher: Delacorte Press Pages: 493 Copy: From Library Summary: Goodreads

In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day. Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

Did I enjoy the Iron Thorn? Yes, I did. Did I understand The Iron Thorn? Not so sure about that one! I think this book could be classified as steampunk, but since I haven't read much of that genre, I'm not 100% sure about that. It has an an element of magic and fae and I'm not so sure that steampunk has magic, if someone can enlighten me on this, please do, I'd love to have that cleared up. May'be it's just Fantasy? But, I think what I liked most about Iron Thorn was its differences. It was dark and creepy, weird and wonderful. Full of steam engines and clockwork parts, then magic and fae - it was a study in contrasts. Aoife (and if someone could please tell me how you pronounce that name I will be eternally grateful) is struggling with the knowledge that in a very short time she will go mad, just like everyone else in her family, but I never felt that she was feeling sorry for herself about it. She is the only female student at the school of Engines - way to go girl! - where she holds her own against the other students. Her best friend is Cal, who helps her find her way in the school. He was wonderful - a little naggy at times, but a good friend. When a letter arrives for Aoife from her brother, that's when the fun starts.

There are steam engines, airships, fairy rings (hexenrings) and the Folk. Friends betray friends, enemies triumph and are overcome, new friends are made and kept. There's a bit of romance going on with Aoife and Dean - I really liked him, even though he did smoke. Dean was one of those characters that reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones. You know, ready for adventure, rescues the damsel in distress, bit of a bad boy. There are also surprises coming out of the woodwork - quite literally. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on, another surprise would pop up. Some of them nice, many of them very nasty, some of them downright apalling, (can't say more or it would be a major spoiler) and all of them intriguing. All-in-all a very interesting world that I am looking forward to revisiting when the sequel comes out in ?. Sorry, I know Iron Thorn is the first book in 'The Iron Codex', but I couldn't find news of a second volume on Ms Kittredges site. I'm really, really interested to see what other readers think of this one.


  1. Steampunk is an odd thing, but it sounds like this classifies as one, which means I will most likely be reading it.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book! Gonna have to check it out on goodreads. I've never seen it before.. How did you come across it?

  3. Sarah, I honestly can't remember where I first heard of this one, but I have read some of her adult novels and enjoyed them. I recommended it for purchase at the library and it was ordered, so I just had to try it. I'm so glad I did.
    Najela, I'm pretty sure it's steampunk, what with all the steam engines and clockwork going on, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it. There's even a cool scene in an airship.

  4. From your description, this sounds like what I would consider "steampunk." Here's part of wikipedia's definition:

    Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.

  5. Great review, I really want to read this book! And You pronounce Aoife as 'Eeefa', it's Irish :L

  6. Thank you so much Annette and Bella. I suppose I could have looked up both these answers, but it's so nice to get a conversation going, don't you think? Hope you enjoy it when you read it.