Publication: October 11th 2016 by Amulet Books
Source: E-ARC via Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Synopsis: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.
Spoiler Free Review:
If you’re looking to read some historical fantasy with con artists as main characters with unique abilities, an amazing female friendship and friendly banter, this is the book for you. Honestly, this might be one of best young adult historical fantasy debuts I’ve ever read. The historical setting along with the interesting fantastical abilities and dynamic characters, this was a wonderful debut.
The book takes place in an alternate Boston in 1919. There are people called hemopaths and are seen as a threat. Hemopaths have strange abilities that can bring objects to life through art, create illusions through poetry, and even allow a person feel certain emotions by singing or performing a song. I found a wordsmith to be the most unique, creating illusions through poetry was a really cool concept.
Racism was also brought up towards African Americans and the main character Ada. I was hoping there would be more of a discussion on racism but I’m glad it was brought up. On top of that, the treatment off immigrants in America was also mentioned. I’m really glad that along with the paranormal elements, there was also some historical aspects as well. I’m not going to say much about the plot, but it was very fast paced and there are plenty of plot twists and also a few character betrayals. Though I think the cool concept and world is what really made the story line interesting.
Along with the plot and world, Soria created some great characters as well. Corinne and Ada, the two main protagonists reminded me a lot of Nina and Inej from Six of Crows. If you liked their friendship in Six of Crows, you will be bound to feel the same way about Corinne and Ada. Ada is more of the responsible one, she’s someone who really thinks things through. She’s very intelligent. but more quiet of the two. I loved that she was a person of color and a main characters, another sad rarity in young adult literature. On the other hand, Corinne is loud, cunning and clever. She can be very rash in decision making. but she’s also the life of the party. Put both of them together and they are nearly unstoppable.
Hands down, my favorite part about this book was the friendship between Ada and Corinne. Their banter was so snarky and hilarious, but both were also very loyal towards one another. They’ve been best friends for four years and you can tell that both are lost without each other(as cheesy as it sounds, it’s true). The friendship was what truly drove the story and I loved every page of it.
I really enjoyed the side characters as well. Saint is an adorable cinnamon roll, he’s the quiet little painter in the corner. The two love interests weren’t that bad either. I liked that Ada had a seven month relationship with her love interest prior to the beginning of the book. No insta-love, thank goodness. I could have done without the romance, honestly if we just focused on Ada and Corinne’s friendship and banter, I think I would have loved this book even more. But I was really glad that the romance never took up the entire plot, it was always stayed a sub plot.
All in all, if you’re looking for an intriguing world with unique magical concepts, con artists, historical elements, and bantering friendships, I would highly recommend picking this book up on its release date.