The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Posted September 28, 2017 by Amber in Reviews / 1 Comment

The Iron Thorn

The Iron Thorn

by Caitlin Kittredge

Series: Iron Codex #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press on February 22, 2011
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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 city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day. Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.


I was so, so, SO on and off about this book.

Okay, so immediately I thought the world was interesting.  I’m really hit-or-miss on steampunk, but I keep going for this world-type because I love the idea?  Glutton for punishment, I guess?  Anyway, I can only think of one other steampunk book I genuinely liked, and that was The Girl with the Steel Corset.  I don’t think there were others.

Steampunk is so pretty though….


I did like this book.  Quite a lot more than I expected.  Here’s why.

The world-building was freaking awesome.

At the beginning, I couldn’t bring myself to care about a lot of stuff.  Aoife was alright, and everyone else was annoying but IN THE FIRST CHAPTER we’re in the madhouse with Aoife and Narissa and it is BEAUTIFUL and CREEPY and 100% engrossing.  I WAS HOOKED.  Then it sort of went away for awhile, and I was getting bored… la de da…


The whole book went on like this, with lulls and then stark, vivid, intriguing descriptions that I gobbled up.  I wish that thrill stuck with me the whole book, but what was there was a GIFT.

Then there were twists.

I don’t know why I didn’t predict everything in this book, but I didn’t.  I predicted nothing.  I didn’t think that magic would come into play, and I didn’t think about faeries, and I didn’t think about CAL HOLY CRAP GUYS WHAT HAPPENED THERE?  I was just sitting at my desk, working and minding my own business, then BAM! ZAP! POW!  Immediate need to flail and join in with Aoife asking HOW DID I MISS THAT?

I love it when books surprise me.  Love, love, love.  I love it when love triangles are NOT ACTUALLY YES and when stupid characters are NOT ACTUALLY OMG YAY.  I love it when everything I think I know is wrong and yessssssss.

The mythology was actually fantastic.

I don’t put mythology and steampunk together.  Ghosts, maybe, but nothing else.  I’m not sure why.  But Caitlin Kittredge does and I’m glad because it’s an AWESOME fusion.  She relies a lot on Celtic mythology which I LOVE and is totally underdone.  And not just the fae and the seely/unseely courts, either?  She runs the gamut.  AND THE BEST OF IT?  The monsters.

The monsters in this book are dark and drippy and FABULOUS.  They are the creepy, crawly, goes-bump-in-the-night sort and I thought they were wonderful foes.

Not everything was perfect, though.

Seriously, lets talk about the main three characters.

Our heroine, Aoife.

Aoife has her moments, I’ll give her that, but SO MUCH of her inner monologue is: “and this one time, at the Academy, this ONLY SORT OF RELATABLE thing!”  And she’d have moments where she was so strong and fabulous and I loved her.

Then she’d have another moment where she’d be all: “Well, magic can’t exist, so I don’t know what I have, I only like numbers!” and she’d do that every paragraph for about three chapters, and seriously girl?  Believe, don’t believe, start out not believing then believe later… do what you need to do… but all this back and forth makes me feel like I’m watching a tennis match.

Also HER NAME.  Looked it up once, still not sure I’m spelling it right?  It’s got to be Gaelic (yay!) and it’s pronounced EE-Fuh.

The Boys.


Why can’t the male characters in these sort of books ever be INTERESTING enough that I feel like giving them each their OWN subheadings?

Cal was lame.  Literally, for a little while (BUT ONLY LIKE A DAY BECAUSE CHARACTERS IN FANTASY BOOKS HEAL MAGICALLY WHY).  Such a sexist jerk?  “You’re just a girl, I’m smarter than you.” or “You’re a silly girl, I’m braver than you.” and seriously?  Wanted to smack him for most the book!  His character got better in the last… 20%.  But not enough to forgive him.

Then Dean was just your quintessential Bad Boy.  Leather jacket, cigarettes, the works.  Seriously, man, how many times does a girl have to tell you she doesn’t smoke?  Also a drinker.  Okay, fine, you do you, but… cliches much?  Again, his character got better in the last 30%-ish of the book once he was given a little depth, but in the meanwhile? UGH.  Especially in the beginning, where he was basically the Fonz.

Because these characters were largely insufferable, it HUGELY affected the book for me.  If the world itself hadn’t been so darn gripping, I would have been gone early.

Really, the opening scene in the madhouse saved it.  I would like to see more from Narissa.

The ending dragged.

It dragged and dragged and dragged and dragged.

I wanted this book to stop.  We played a game, really.

ME:  This is the last sentence.
BOOK:  …Aoife looked up…
ME:  Okay guess not. *listens* OH OKAY.  THIS is the last sentence.
BOOK:Aoife looked out the window….
ME:  Please stop.
BOOK:  …Aoife had a pep talk in her head…
ME:  Okay, inspiration romantic ending I get-
BOOK:  …Walking across the grounds…

So I mean, obviously we had our differences, but it got there eventually.  Still thought it would have been better an hour earlier.

So overall?

I’m adding the next book to my TBR.


And this is the type of review you get when I write it IMMEDIATELY after finishing the book, instead of the next day.

I apologise for nothing.

(Except possible misspellings of character names?  I’m working off an audiobook here!)

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★


Have you read this book or anything by this author?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Tell me all about your experience in the comments!

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