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The Iron Thorn
Cover of The Iron Thorn
The Iron Thorn
The Iron Codex Series, Book 1
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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...
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...
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  • 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.
 

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Excerpts-

  • Chapter One 1

    The Ashes of the World

    There are seventeen madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I've visited all of them.

    My mother likes to tell me about her dreams when I visit. She sits in the window of the Cristobel Charitable Asylum and strokes the iron bars covering the glass like they are the strings of a harp. "I went to the lily field last night," she murmurs.

    Her dreams are never dreams. They are always journeys, explorations, excavations of her mad mind, or, if her mood is bleak, ominous portents for me to heed.

    The smooth brass gears of my chronometer churned past four-thirty and I put it back in my skirt pocket. Soon the asylum would close to visitors and I could go home. The dark came early in October. It's not safe for a girl to be out walking on her own, in Hallows' Eve weather.

    I called it that, the sort of days when the sky was the same color as the smoke from the Nephilim Foundry across the river, and you could taste winter on the back of your tongue.

    When I didn't immediately reply, my mother picked up her hand mirror and threw it at my head. There was no glass in it—hadn't been for years, at least six madhouses ago. The doctors wrote it into her file, neat and spidery, after she tried to cut her wrists open with the pieces. No mirrors. No glass. Patient is a danger to herself.

    "I'm talking to you!" she shouted. "You might not think it's important, but I went to the lily field! I saw the dead girls move their hands! Open eyes looking up! Up into the world that they so desperately desire!"

    It's a real shame that my mother is mad. She could make a fortune writing sensational novels, those gothics with the cheap covers and breakable spines that Mrs. Fortune, my house marm at the Lovecraft Academy, eats up.

    My stomach closed like a fist, but my voice came out soothing. I've had practice being soothing, calming. Too much practice. "Nerissa," I said, because that's her name and we never address each other as mother and daughter but always as Nerissa and Aoife. "I'm listening to you. But you're not making any sense." Just like usual. I left the last part off. She'd only find something else to throw.

    I picked up the mirror and ran my thumb over the backing. It was silver, and it had been pretty, once. When I was a child I'd played at being beautiful while my mother sat by the window of Our Lady of Rationality, the first madhouse in my memory, run by Rationalist nuns. Their silent black-clad forms fluttered like specters outside my mother's cell while they prayed to the Master Builder, the epitome of human reason, for her recovery. All the medical science and logic in the world couldn't cure my mother, but the nuns tried. And when they failed, she was sent on to another madhouse, where no one prayed for anything.

    Nerissa gave a snort, ruffling the ragged fringe above her eyes. "Oh, am I? And what would you know of sense, miss? You and those ironmongers locked away in that dank school, the gears turning and turning to grind your bones . . ."

    I stopped listening. Listen to my mother long enough and you started to believe her. And believing Nerissa broke my heart.

    My thumb sank into the depression in the mirror frame, left where an unscrupulous orderly had pried out a ruby, or so my mother said. She accused everyone of everything, sooner or later. I'd been a nightjar, come to drink her blood and steal her life, a ghost, a torturer, a spy. When she turned her rage on me, I gathered my books and left, knowing that we wouldn't speak again for weeks. On the days when she talked about her dreams, the visits could stretch for hours.

    "I went to the...

About the Author-

  • CAITLIN KITTREDGE is the author of the Nocturne City series, the upcoming Black London adventures for St. Martin's Press, as well as the Icarus Project superhero saga for Bantam Spectra (with Jackie Kessler) (all adult projects). She lives and writes in Massachusetts. You can visit her at CaitlinKittredge.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 13, 2010
    In her first book for young readers,
    urban fantasist Kittredge (the Nocturne City series) presents a fevered if somewhat unlikely mashup of steampunk, the Cthulhu mythos, and traditional fairy tale, set in an alternate 1950s America. Talented engineering student Aoife Grayson, the illegitimate daughter of a madwoman and a reclusive scholar, fully expects to go insane on her upcoming 16th birthday because, as her only friend Cal reminds her, "the Grayson line has bad blood. From the first infected on down," and it is clear that the Proctors, who rule the ghoul-haunted, necrovirus-stricken city of Lovecraft, are watching her closely. Fleeing Lovecraft, accompanied by Cal and Dean, her handsome but disreputable heretic guide, Aoife heads for Arkham and her father's ancestral mansion, intent on saving her mad brother, Conrad, from a hideous fate. There she discovers marvelous inventions, gruesome monsters, a complex plot that spans several worlds, and the secret of her own identity. Though the material borrowed from H.P. Lovecraft occasionally calls too much attention to itself, Kittredge generates significant thrills and chills in this fast-moving tale, first in a planned series. Ages 12–up.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2011

    Lovecraftian steampunk–urban faerie mashup from an adult paranormal author. Orphaned Aoife Grayson lives in Lovecraft, Mass., where the necrovirus transforms humans to nightmare creatures and reason rules so supreme that believers in magic are called heretics and killed. At the bidding of her mad brother, Aoife, best friend Cal and bad-boy guide Dean flee the safety and rules of Lovecraft for Aoife's father's mansion in Arkham. There she learns she has latent magical power relating to machines and a longstanding family connection to the dark fairy Land of Thorn. Detailed descriptions overwhelm (do readers care about every outfit?), characters don't behave consistently (in one case this eventually proves deliberate, but the twist seems even more implausible than the earlier behavior) and the pieces don't come together until the very end, rather abruptly despite the novel's heft. If readers could put on Aoife's blue-glass goggles to see the bones beneath the overwriting, this would be a winner; sadly, it's hard to imagine most making it through the bloat. Better editing could have saved this. (Steampunk fantasy. YA)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2011

    Gr 7 Up-Aoife Grayson is terrified that she will go mad when she turns 16. She believes that she carries a latent form of a necrovirus that has already affected her brother, who has disappeared, and her mother, who is locked up in a madhouse. The setting is an alternate version of New England, where Boston is known as Lovecraft, a town powered by a mysterious underground engine and ruled by Proctors who enforce a rationalistic worldview that denies the existence of magic, blames madness on a necrovirus outbreak, and keeps the populace safe from the apocryphal night creatures who are said to feed on human flesh. Aoife, who is studying at Lovecraft's School of Engines, receives a mysterious letter from her missing brother that leads her to escape the city with her friend Cal. The pair recruits Dean Harrison as a guide as they hitch a ride on an airship to Aoife's ancestral mansion, which has long been abandoned except for the young maid, Bethina. At Graystone, Aoife discovers her father's journals that help her to understand her family's secrets and her own destiny. The journals also lead her into a fairy realm, the Land of Thorn, where she meets Tremaine, one of the "Kindly Folk" who may or may not be telling her the truth. Kittredge has fashioned a unique, action-filled, and compelling combination of steampunk, H. P. Lovecraft-inspired horror, and straight fantasy that should enchant fans of all three genres.-Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Random House Children's Books
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