Age of Steam #1
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...
Looking at the cover you can guess that you're in store for a gun-slinging, ass-kicking, dusty ride, but what most surprised me about Dead Iron was the beauty of the writing. The tale is told through four or five different stories all happening at once and for a while it wasn't grabbing me, but the power of the words and the dynamism of the characters and the world in which they're living, fueled my engrossment. Monk captures the essences of the time period, including the daily struggles and the social dynamics with ease, and it has everything to do with her writing skills. This is by far her best writing in my opinion. Every paragraph, every page, felt like a gift... as corny as that sound.
Like I mentioned, the story is told through separate timelines and different 3rd person POVs, and for the most part I enjoyed seeing this new world from all the different angles. By doing so, it gave me a wide scope of this fictional time in history where steam combined with the industrial revolution to give the 19th century a taste of future technologies. The steampunk aspect of the story is perfectly balanced, and doesn't take over, in case you were wondering. The plot takes its time steeping, making it nice and strong, and even though it may have hit its stride slightly late in my opinion, it doesn't make the story any less powerful. You eventually come to a place where you won't be able to put the book down come hell or high water.
As adventurous as the plot becomes, the star of this show is the characters. We get substantial time with each of them, and there wasn't a single one of the characters, even the evil villain, that I didn't love thoroughly. Every last one of them is crafted so completely, you can't stop yourself from becoming invested in them. There's a 16 year old girl who's smarter than she lets on. There's a witch who balances power with emotion. There's a villain who's as mysterious as he is cruel. Then there are the three brothers who pop up at just the right (or wrong) time and just might be the most secretive of them all. This ends up creating more than one main character of the story, but since Cedar is on the cover, and it's rare for me to read a man's story, I want to make sure I give him the attention he deserves. Like his name suggests, Cedar stands firm and true. His personality is rigid but beautiful, and his integrity is exactly what you like to see in a man. He says what he means and he does what he says. I heart Cedar. I want so many things for him, and he deserves so much. He's just a fantastic character, that I know I'll only grow to enjoy more and more as we start to learn more about him over the series.
The series is definitely just getting started when you hit the last page of the book, and you can bet that this reader will be coming back for more mystery and mayhem.