Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge (Delacorte Press, 2011)
Summary from publisher:
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 Proctors deem Heretical, or born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, time is running shorter by the day.
Aoife's family is unique in the worse way. Her mother and her older brother, Conrad, both went mad on their sixteenth birthdays. And now, a ward of the state nearing her own sixteenth birthday, Aoife is trying to pretend her fate can be different.
Her future seems bleak. Until one day she receives a letter that reads simply.
Find the witch's alphabet.
Aoife knows the letter is from Conrad, but the last time she saw her brother was the day he lost his mind and attacked her before going on the run from the Proctors. Could it be that he is sane somewhere and warning her to get out while she still can-- or is the note simply a message from a rambling madman?
To save herself, Aoife must find her brother. And to do that, she must leave Lovecraft and venture into a world of Heretics and air pirates, night creatures and dark family secrests ... before the clock winds down and she too succombs to the necrovirus.
I haven't read a steampunk book since the anthology back in February. This book was a nice change from the many, many dystopians I've been reading, though there were definitely some dystopian elements. The one thing that bothered me was that I couldn't pin down a time period for this book. Steampunk books are often set in the Victorian era with more advanced technology, but this book had date references as modern as 1933. Even though it really doesn't matter to the story, I like knowing roughly when a story takes place. Also, why do steampunk and fantasy authors have to give their characters such weird names? How the heck does one pronounce Aoife anyway?
Kittredge packs some nice twists into the story line, and I enjoyed seeing what direction she would take the characters and the plot. Aoife is a spunky character who has a mind of her own; she does not want to be defined by her society's narrow view of women, and this characteristic sometimes leads her into trouble. There's also quite a bit of action that is sure to keep readers turning the pages.
This book might have more boy appeal with a different cover. Certainly the adventure and steampunk elements outweigh the romance in this novel. I wonder, though, how many boys will pick it up....