Book Title: Dead Iron: The Age of Steam
Book Author: Devon Monk
Book Publisher: Roc-A Penguin imprint
Release Date: 2011
Retail Price: $15.00 (print); $5.99 (digital)
Purchase At: Books-A-Million; Amazon
First Sentence: Cedar had stared straight into the killing eyes of rabid wolves, hungry bears, and charging bull elk, but Mrs. Horace Small had them all topped.
Back Cover Teaser: Although the devisers have civilized the East with their contraptions, civilization hasn’t tamed the frontier that bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides. Cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother’s death, he’s a hard man for hire. But when a trio of miners offers him the possibility that his brother may yet survive. Cedar isn’t going to haggle for payment. All he has to do for them is find the Holder, a powerful device created by mad devisers from the realm of the Strange.
The Holder is in the hands of Shard Lefel, a dandified railroad tycoon who has come to Hallelujah, Oregon, promising a civilized tomorrow. But what Cedar doesn’t know is that Lefel is an ancient Strange banished to walk this land for centuries. Now nearing the end of his sentence. Lefel is desperately searching for a way to fend off his own mortality-and the Holder may be the key.
In a land shaped by magic, steam, and iron, where the only thing a man can count on is 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.
Review: I’ve had this book in my to-be-read pile for longer than I’d care to admit, which is a shame as this is one of my favorite authors. Monk’s Age of Steam series has some parallels to her Allie Beckstrom series. Both have paranormal power systems, although this one is a lot more vague and mysterious. There appear to be gods, the Strange, mineral powered WMDs, and more.
As with her other series, Monk weaves a book-long story arc with a half dozen sub stories helping and hindering the main characters. There are several sub stories that I bet will grow in the sequels. The characters are introduced a half dozen or so at a time with no seeming correlation to each other, it’s not until a few chapters in that everything starts merging and characters start finding their ways to each other.
Battling a deposed god with ‘matics a lycanthropic duo that reminds me almost of the Lady Hawk scenario with the two wolves and when they can be human. There’s the mysterious trio of miners that know way more than they let on. And as there’s now a Strange / ‘matic powered WMD scattered across who knows how far across the lands, I’m curious to see how long this series will extend to wrap up all the various threads. If it’ll be anything like the Allie Beckstrom series it’s gonna be a wild ride and well worth the read.
All in all, I definitely recommend grabbing this book, and it’s a safe bet you’ll want to pick up the sequels Tin Swift and Cold Copper for good measure. I know I’ll be grabbing them when next I can. If you’re more for magic over steam powered tech, Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom nine-book series (with an upcoming spin-off book series based on two secondary characters).