Heart of Iron: Review
I received Heart of Iron, by Ashley Poston, in a recent Fairyloot box and I was STUNNED by the gorgeous purple sprayed pages. Billed as an Anastasia retelling set in space, I knew I was in for an adventure because Ashley Poston's writing is so witty and brilliant. Her first novel, Geekerella, mesmerized me- and Heart of Iron was no different! With a cast full of diverse characters and a plot subtly reminiscent of Anastasia, this was such a unique and fun read!
Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.
Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.
What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?
There are some clear similarities between Heart of Iron and Anastasia, the 20th-century Fox animated princess who I think is now actually a Disney princess?! Anyway. The main character is named Ana. The family ruling the Iron Kingdom mysteriously disappeared, including their young daughter. Hmmmmm, I wonder what could have happened to her? I'll leave that to you to ponder. Though the major beats of the story may follow Anastasia, that's where the similarities end.
Heart of Iron features an incredibly diverse cast of characters, from the butt-kicking thief Ana to the Metal D09 - an automaton with a highly advanced AI - who is starting to feel strangely human emotions. Then we have Jax, a mysterious Solani whose piloting skills are unparalleled only to his sharp wit. Of course, there's the Ironblood Robbert Valerio, who has a chip on his shoulder and plenty of his own secrets. The book alternates between these different characters' POV, so we get well-rounded insight on the book's events. Their voices are clear and distinct, and the relationships that develop between our characters are believable. If you're a fan of solid character development and banter, and the characters are what made Six of Crows or The Lunar Chronicles really enjoyable for you, then you'll be similarly satisfied with Heart of Iron.
The genre itself is a cool blend of fantasy and science fiction, with just enough elements of both to create a fantastic environment for the story. Poston introduces a brand new terminology and even an original language system. She drops hints about races of people, besides the Solani, that we haven't met yet, perhaps with their own unique abilities and languages. It's clear that the Iron Kingdom is much bigger than what we've read between the pages and there's a lot more to discover, setting the book up perfectly for a sequel.
However, I docked one star for Poston's constant teasing! Very early in the book, Ana touches iron- which is supposed to rust for everyone except the person destined to rule the Iron Kingdom. Of course, the iron doesn't rust! We get many hints into Ana's heritage and the plot lines for the other characters but the book doesn't really get moving until about halfway in. It's frustrating to be following a trail of breadcrumbs with delayed payoff (dang it, I'm a millennial and need instant gratification!). The plot easily felt like it could have been contained in one book, but the pacing stretched it out into what will now be a series.
I rate Heart of Iron 4/5 stars!
P.S. Spot the Heart of Iron-inspired bookmark in my photo above? You can get your own in my Etsy shop- click here!