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this book was really amazing and beautiful and I recommend it to everyone ever because the best friends are just too good
The year is 1919. Boston on the verge of Prohibition is teeming with hemopaths: people with magical talents which develop suddenly in their teens, and a strong aversion to iron. Corinne and Ada - two sixteen year-olds work in an underground club Cast Iron as its star performers, but six months ago using their talents became illegal, and they rely more and more on tricking crooks to part with their money to keep the club which is their safe haven afloat.
Both girls are very different but suit each other well. Corinne's talent is weaving illusions through reading poetry aloud. She comes from a posh family which flits from one high society event to another to strengthen their power base, and they are known for their anti-hemopaths stance. Ada can coax any emotion she wants and fog people's memories through her music. She is half-Portuguese, half Swahili and came to Johnny, their boss to keep her momma afloat while her father is serving time in prison wrongly accused of stealing the money from work. Ada is reserved and doesn't part with her own emotions easily, instead hoarding them almost to her own detriment.
When hemopaths start disappearing from the streets of Boston, rumours place them in Havesham asylum for afflicted of the blood where they are allegedly tortured and experimented upon. Corinne and Ada are forced to find out for themselves if there is any truth in it which almost costs them their lives, and soon both girls and their friends are fighting for their survival and the future of their kind while trying to keep their club from getting shut.
Iron Cast is undoubtedly character-driven book, and the girls with their supporting cast of Gabriel, Saint, Charlie, Madelaine and James are fantastic. At the same time, the world-building and the writing style reminded me of Mary Robinette Kowal's historical fantasies, and Libba Bray's The Diviners.
This is an atmospheric read, full of slang of the era and gorgeous poetry which comes to life beautifully under the narrator's touch. It also didn't shy away from the topics of violence, racism and inequality, while keeping the book clean sex-wise. It had this wry, sarcastic feel to it, and I will definitely keep an eye on this author in the future. Recommended.