Dead Iron by Devon Monk
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
I’ve only started reading steampunk in the last two years or so, but hands down, this is my favorite book in the genre, so far. Written with far more intelligence than most, Dead Iron is filled with characters who pull you in, a plot that is complicated without being so convoluted you can’t follow it, and all the steampunky automatons (called “matics” in this world) a person could ever want to see menacing Mankind. Throw in a cursed hero who chains himself up during the full moon, a witch who tries not to practice magic lest her spells turn into curses, a somewhat fey young woman who is clever at making magical mechanical things herself, and three brothers who are much more than the rowdy miners they seem to be, and you have a cast well worth caring about.
The arch-villain of the piece, a Mr. Shard LeFel, is bringing the railroad through a small, western town, and building it with steam-powered matics of all shapes and sizes. But what he is really bringing to the west is something much worse than steam-belching locomotives. And his henchman, the terrifying Mr. Shunt, has got to be the creepiest piece of work I’ve read about in many months.
I haven’t enjoyed a new urban fantasy series this much in a long time. I will definitely be reading books two and three to see what Cedar Hunt and his friends are up to. Why his name alone–Cedar Hunt–is almost enough to keep me turning the pages, but luckily there’s more to his character than just a cool name. He’s a very likable and believable hero, well worth my precious reading time.
If steampunk intrigues you, but you don’t necessarily want to read volumes about the machinery itself, this might be just the right book for you. There’s exactly the right amount of unstoppable automatons in the plot to give it that certain feel, but way more character development than I have encountered in the genre before. Combine that with pretty strong writing that’s often quite elegant, and I’m all smiles!
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