Dead Iron

Thanks to a suggestion on my blog (yay!), I took a chance on this novel, Dead Iron by Devon Monk.  This is an interesting steampunk novel. Instead of taking place in England (or Europe in general) this one takes place in America. It’s an interesting blend of steampunk, fantasy and western. Oh, not to mention that one character turns into a zombie. Good times.

So…plot. The plot is that in a little town named Hallelujah somewhere near or in the Oregon Territories, a fae creature is searching for a way home. As soon as I read the name Shard LeFel, I realized this guy was destined to be 1) the bad guy and 2) a fae creature. Yeah, LeFel, LeFay (as in Morgana from the Arthur legend), pretty obvious. But not really the bad kind of obvious. LeFel has a servant of some sort called a Strange, named Mr. Shunt. Near as I can tell, Stranges are some sort of vile, shadowy creature without a natural body of their own. So they build and enchant bodies using a combination of steam tech and magic. They’re very hard to kill and they’re nasty fighters.

On the good side, we have lone wolf Cedar Hunt. And this is meant literally. Cedar, at some point in his ‘mysterious past’, was cursed by an ancient Pawnee god with lycanthropy. As was his brother, whom Cedar presumes is dead. Unfortunately, Monk never explains why the brothers were cursed. Generally speaking, people don’t just get cursed ‘just because’. If there is a sequel, I’d like to see the reason behind it.

Cedar is the protagonist of the book and as such, you’re supposed to feel sympathy for him bearing up with this curse. I suppose he’s likeable in a tough, Chris Larabee sort of way but I felt there was a little bit of doubt as to just how good a man he was. There was allusions to him losing a wife and child (or children) but we never found out if this was due to the curse or if it occurred before the curse.

The other good guys in the book are witch Mae Lindstrom, odd child Rose Small and the Madder Brothers. The Madders are not human. I think they are some sort of dwarf-based creature. They aren’t small in stature but they come from Wales and they speak to and control (to a degree at least) stone. The Madders are trying to stop LeFel’s nefarious scheme (to get home and kill his brother, a fae king). Mae Lindstrom is one of the catalysts for LeFel to open his door to home. Rose Small is a foundling child who can see the Strange.

Together, they have to fight LeFel and prevent the door from opening. It’s an interesting premise and it’s fun to read about steampunk in America. I’d love to read more steampunk in the US if anyone has any suggestions. Overall, I’d say the book is a B. It was worth the read.