In Which I Discuss The Mirrored Shard, by Caitlin Kittredge…

(So it’s been quite some time since my last update, but between getting hit with the flu, the holidays and starting a new job AND internship – it’s been insane.  The move to the city proved to be one of the greatest things I could have done. Slowly but surely I’m working my way into the industry and enjoying every crazed minute of it.  The subway rides have also given me ample time to catch up on my reading. I have about thirty books I’ve read that I desperately want to talk about. Which brings us to today’s post!  The first review in ages and it’s on one of my new favorite books, by an author I geek out over frequently on here. It’s the most recent one I’ve read, but it was so good it gets first slot! So without further ado my kiddies I bring to you the review of The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge.)

Since reading the first pages of “The Iron Thorn” I have been hooked on the Iron Codex series by Caitlin Kittredge.  What first grabbed me about the series was the story line.  Steampunk-Plus I like to think of it. It really had everything I enjoy reading all packed into one book.  In addition, the level at which Kittredge writes is superb.  She has a firm command of language and how to weave words into a story that so few authors today have.

As I’ve become even more jaded about writing styles, plot and execution since I started my internship at the agency, it was great to read a book by an author whose work I enjoy not marred by my ever growing critical eye. Even in the cases of published books these days, I find things that make me cringe.  Mirrored Shard had none of this.

It picks up some few months after the end of “Nightmare Garden”.  We get to see Nerissa unmarred by the effects of iron poisoning that drove her from Aoife’s life to begin with.  The story itself follows Aoife as she goes on the journey/hunt/adventure to get Dean back, while she has to deal with the repercussions of opening the gate to the nightmare realm. Needless to say, Aoife has really found herself between Scylla and Charybdis.

What I like most about this novel (and honestly the series as a whole) is that you can truly see how the events Aoife experiences change her. Whether for the good or for the bad, she grows as a character through these novels and it’s believable.  It’s subtle until she does something that makes you say “Well wait in book 1 she never would have done that.”  It’s clear that Kittredge has a grasp on how to grow her characters through multiple books.

Some of the beloved characters return, including Cal who is a personal favorite of mine. The Ghoul with a heart of gold.  There are also some new characters. Some of whom I fell in love with immediately (even though one or two were supposed to be bad…what does that say about me?) and others who had to grow on me.  It’s rare, I feel, to find secondary and tertiary characters that have been as well fleshed out as those in this book.  It gives the story a far more realistic feel that, for example, the stranger Aoife encounters once acts in accordance to certain economic and social conditions. It’s clear that to some degree even these minor characters have a story behind them.

All in all, despite my technical babble the story is great. The writing is great. And I devoured it heartily. I never like to give away too much in reviews because I loathe spoilers. But let’s just say that between the East Coast and the West Coast, Kittredge gives more to the landscape that she started in Iron Thorn.  Hey, we even get to see Alcatraz in this universe – which is pretty cool if you ask me.  There’s also a character, Lei Xiang, that REALLY reminds me a little of something in an old Kung-Fu movie (which, by the way, is not a scathe. I LOVE old Kung-Fu movies, wrought with their crazy villains and ladies with insane eyes.)

And, I also have to say because of the subtle Lovecraftian undertones in this series (and some not so subtle which is by no means a bad thing) I’ve been sparked to pick up the old master again.  I feel my life has been fulfilled a little more because of this. So thank you Ms. Kittredge, for reintroducing me to an author I loved so long ago and had long forgotten.  And thank you for a stunning end to a trilogy.  Though my heart is sad to leave the world of Aoife Grayson, it was indeed a fine finale. I thoroughly look forward to what this author puts out in the future.

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In Which I Discuss “Soul Trade” by Caitlin Kittredge

But first, Holy Hurricane Batman!  We ended up very lucky here in my part of Brooklyn.  We didn’t lose power. Sure it flickered amidst the insane winds and even though I watched the blue arcs in the distance of other neighborhoods losing power, we were very very lucky.  The subway system is reported to be out for 4 to 5 days- which means there’s no way I’m getting out of this borough anytime soon.  My very best wishes to everyone who got hit a lot worse than me.  I hope the cleanup and recovery goes smoothly.  And I hope that everyone reading this is safe, happy and on the road to recovering from this storm.

“Soul Trade”, the newest addition in the Black London series by Kittredge is on my favorite book list.  So much so I bought an electronic copy for my kindle as well as the hard copy.  I don’t always bring hard copies with me when I travel so I wanted to make sure I had it in both forms. Yes, I’m slightly neurotic about the books I like the most.  In ANY CASE, slight warning.  This review/discussion may mention bits from other books or the plot line throughout the series. So if you haven’t read it yet (and are like me never wanting to know what happens) then I suggest you don’t read this. Last warning. Okay? Okay…we’re moving on.  I’ll ask all guests to keep their arms and legs inside the car, make sure that you are securely fastened into the car and please refrain from screaming in your seat-neighbor’s ear.  And….here we go.

Anyone who has read any of my previous reviews on any of Kittredge’s books know that I have a soft spot in my little book slut heart for her work.  Soul Trade is no different.  In the last novel, we were left with news that Pete (the story’s heroine if you don’t know) was preggo by the sexy Jack Winter.  (Alright people, yes…I love women, and yes he’s a character in a book but seriously you can’t tell me you don’t agree. )  I’m going to admit that I was TERRIFIED how the story was going to progress from there.  It’s not everyone that can pull off giving a character a child mid-series and do it well.

In Soul Trade, Pete and Jack are approached by super secret magical society The Prometheus Club.  Which, as an aside, I love the name.   I’m a huge Greek Myth buff and I’m quite possibly assigning meaning that isn’t there (don’t know, I didn’t write it and I’m not going to make any assumptions) but yeah…gotta love it.  The invite to join them at a gathering isn’t so much an invite as it is a threat.  But with big things going down in the magical world, they go.

I don’t like to say too much about the plot when I review books, for those who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that Kittredge does (as usual) an amazing job with character growth and development.  I had an unsubstantiated fear that Pete and Jack having a child would make the story drag, or bring to it an element that would soften the dark feel of the novels.  Thankfully, Kittredge is a master of her craft and the new addition to the Caldecott/Winter family doesn’t make the story drag in the least.

In fact, having a child seems to have made Pete and Jack stronger in their own way.  Everyone says being a parent changes you and Kittredge does a wonderful job of reflecting that in this novel.  Pete also grows in her Weir-ness (as I affectionately refer to it), and it’s pleasing to see a consistent attitude from her from book to book.  Too many books with female protagonists border on weakling or Mary Sue.  Kittredge manages to navigate in the center line, giving us a kick ass heroine who sometimes takes ridiculous chances and suffers the consequences.  But through it all you never leave Pete’s sideline.  You root for her, and for Jack- who we get to see (for a moment) a vulnerable side to.   It’s nice to see that their relationship has grown in its own way.  It sometimes feels strained, when you have a protagonist team that is in a relationship and so bound together, but Kittredge does a marvelous job at not only furthering the story but growing the characters together.

It reads, in a way, like life. If Life was filled with angry goddesses, demons, mages and creepy magical societies hell bent on taking over the world.  If only right?  Life then, would at least be an exciting adventure.  The story kept me wanting more.  It kept me engaged, and I read it twice through because I wanted to make sure I caught everything.  I have to say that this is my favorite book in the series thus far. Because of the character growth and how well it was crafted, I’m certain that a lot will feel the same.

I’ve been hooked on this series since book one, and with the addition of Soul Trade to the line up- Kittredge has made a fan out of me for life.  This little bookworm cannot wait for the next book in the series.  I only wish I had a TARDIS so I could go forward in time- to the next one’s release date. Yeah, these books are that good.

I give this one 5 our of 5 stars.  Ms. Kittredge, keep up the good work and I will keep being a patron.  I know that I have said it on here before but I love your work.  This bookworm will continue to review her work- because you all need to read it. and READ IT NOW.

 

Stay tuned next week for more updates to the site, possibly another review….this time of Sinister. Which will either be done by myself or my new resident movie reviewer.  Either way!  Again, happy and safe thoughts for all affected by the hurricane.  Stay safe folks!  If you have internet access go buy Soul Trade- it’ll keep the cold at bay! It probably won’t but at least you’ll be so engaged you won’t be thinking about it!

 

In Which I Discuss “Nightmare Garden” by Caitlin Kittredge

So I’m sitting at my laptop, coffee at the ready and my meager breakfast of toast with jam, and trying to write something…anything…before work. Of course, the muse hits at inopportune times (such as…in the middle of a business phone call- you should see all my fae knife wielding doodles) and trying to pressure my brain into being creative usually results in some explosion and becoming less than functional for a few days. That’s when I get my best leveling in Skyrim…but I don’t think you care much about that.

 

While I got absolutely nothing done on the re-write of my current venture, I did feel spurred to do another blog post. I recently finished reading Nightmare Garden, by Caitlin Kittredge, and so I bring to you a rather nice review that is spoiler free (Except there are spoilers for the Iron Thorn, and if you haven’t read the first book in the series….you shouldn’t read this). Because, what fun is reading a book when you know what’s going to happen? Unless you’re one of those people who reads the end first…or actively seeks out spoilers because you’re impatient. Well I will not enable you! You can get over that addiction, I know you can.

 
Nightmare Garden picks up where the first book in the series, The Iron Thorn, left off. (And really if you haven’t even read the first one why are you reading this?! Go…buy it or get it off your dusty shelf and read the darn thing. What? Oh, you don’t read YA books because you’re an adult? Well, I have no cookies for you then. Be gone). And it continues the story in an ‘edge of your seat, nail biting, have to put the book down and walk away to recompose’ way. I personally love books like this. I enjoy that feeling of my heart racing a mile a minute, the adrenaline of worrying what the frak is going to happen.

 
I should state, right off the bat that I am totally Team Dean. I root for him, have since the first book and it was really nice to learn more about him. Also? We meet his mother. Wow. Just…wow. It was also nice to see Aoife grow more than she had in the first book. Plus? The story is uh-may-zzzzing. There’s something about trilogies that just make every book (especially the second, I’ve always felt the second book in a trilogy is the most exciting) insanely edge of your seat good.

 
For those who have read the Iron Thorn, you know that stuff got real at the end of the book. With Lovecraft basically getting the apoca-doom treatment, I know I was wanting to know desperately what would happen. Especially to Aoife’s mother. Rest assured, questions are answered. New questions, well every book in a series brings some new questions and ponderings. But all in all this is a book and series I would reccomend to anyone regardless of their age.

 
Typically when I read something, even by an author I love, I find something that bothers me. Something I don’t agree with, or something that just doesn’t…mesh. With Kittredge I have never had that problem. All her books, the whole of the Nocturne City series, the Black London series and this…I have loved without question. She has taken up the spot in my heart as my favorite author.

 
Kittredge has a great writing style, and exceptional talent. I’m far from a critic but I know what I like, and what is good in my eyes. So, hats off to you Ms. Kittredge for another amazing book. I can’t wait to read the next Iron Codex book. Thank you for giving us Aoife (and for giving me Dean…I really ❤ Dean).

 
And to the rest of you reading this in interwebs land…Go out and read! Read these books now. You won’t regret it. And that’s the last I’ll say about it, but don’t come running to me when you have nothing good to read.

 
And now I’m off to work. Second cup of coffee at the ready. Because you can never have too many quad white mochas….