Kathy Davie's Reviews > Dead Iron

Dead Iron by Devon Monk
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's review
Dec 03, 13

bookshelves: steampunk, urban-fantasy, horror
Read in August, 2011

First in The Age of Steam urban fantasy/steampunk series for young adults set in the Old West.

The Story
The bogeyman takes four-year-old Elbert from his bed one night, and Cedar Hunt takes up the chase with unforeseen results: a resurrection, a new love, and hope for his curse. But that hunt for the missing child quickly becomes entangled with the Madder brothers and Mae Lindson's hunt for her husband's murderer even as her husband manages to survive and begin his dangerous trek home to her.

The Characters
Cedar Hunt is, literally, a lone wolf standing up for the rights of others, helping an unwelcoming community as he attempts to come to terms with his own losses.

Jeb and Mae Lindson are deeply in love even as they have a hard row to hoe—Jeb is black and a talented deviser while Mae is white as well as a white witch whose magic tends to the dark side.

The Madder brothers—Alun, Bryn, and Cadoc—are miners up in the hills above Hallelujah. Not the most sociable of men, we soon discover there is a great deal more below the surface.

Rose Small is the adopted foundling of the owners of the general store. A sweet, young thing, Rose is fascinated with creating from the bits and pieces of metal she finds on her nighttime meanderings.

Ele and the Strange are the evil interlopers with Shard LeFel as the evil who is evilly helped by Mr. Shunt. Neither is of this world and I suspect that LeFel is stringing Shunt along just like he does everyone else.

My Take
This is fascinating! Monk has created an Old West steampunk-style with all the usual suspects: an evil railway man, jealous biddies, a biracial couple, a put-upon young girl, the lone wolf (pun intended!), and the irascible miners. The twist is other-worldly with an exciting tease at the end...I hate that I have to wait until 2012 for Tin Swift !

LeFel's machinations, kidnappings, and all-around evil plans will make you gasp, cry out, and wonder if he has one of those Snidely Whiplash mustaches.

The tension builds and builds as you read faster and faster to find out if Jeb makes it home, if Rose escapes her mother, does Hunt manage all his desires, will LeFel's prisoners escape before he can sacrifice them. There are some chuckles along the way as well as tears and Dead Iron does end on a happy note. Not the exact ending I had hoped for but…

The Cover
The cover has a very gunslinger feel with that touch of steampunk that makes you look twice. Rising up from a subtle base of gears, rings, and washers, Cedar Hunt is tall, dark, and dashing in his wool/leather jacket strewn with straps and bandoliers staring something down at the point of his steam-powered gun.

As for the title, Dead Iron, I'm guessing that it could relate to Jeb's struggles to return home to his anxious wife or it's the glim that powers LeFel's matics.
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