Review: Dead Iron by Devon Monk

Dead Iron

Age of Steam #1

Written: Devon Monk [website]

Published: July 1, 2011

Publisher: Roc

ISBN: 9780451463968

Obtained via: Author


Welcome to a new America that is built on blood, sweat, and gears…

In steam age America, men, monsters, machines, and magic battle for the same scrap of earth and sky. In this chaos, bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides, cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother’s death. Then he’s offered hope that his brother may yet survive. All he has to do is find the Holder: a powerful device created by mad devisers-and now in the hands of an ancient Strange who was banished to walk this Earth.

In a land shaped by magic, steam, and iron, where the only things a man can count on are his guns, gears, and grit, Cedar will have to depend on all three if he’s going to save his brother and reclaim his soul once and for all…

My Review:

This book is the steam punk story I’ve been waiting for since my husband forced me to watch Full-Metal Alchemist. Lots of authors seem to think that if only they throw a couple of gears into the story that it will qualify as steam punk. Dead Iron, though, is the only story I’ve found that manages that same creepy, brass-plated, “playing with powers beyond mortal ken” kind of feel that FMA had. But it is the human elements of both stories that call to me: among the steam-powered robots and creepy alchemical creatures is a tale of sorrow, loss, and love. Of course, there are also some kick-ass fight scenes and incredibly funny moments, too.

With werewolves, witches, fey creatures, steam punk robots, and railroad tycoons all mixing it up in the Old West, one would think that the story would be jumbled with too many disparate elements. It isn’t. I don’t know how the author does it, but she does it well. If you are of the inclination that Dead Iron might be a fluke – you need to read her short story collection, A Cup of Normal.  Monk does strange as naturally as breathing, and just as practiced. The only disappointment I have with the story is that there wasn’t another 3,000 or so pages of it. I can’t wait for the next volume so I can see what happens next!

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