For years, Boston’s glittering demimonde sheltered Corinne and Ada, along with other hemopaths, a uniquely afflicted and gifted pariah class; now, with Prohibition looming, their fragile refuge is threatened.
Despite vastly different backgrounds and after a rocky start, the girls are close friends and partners in crime, roommates at the Cast Iron, a nightclub where hemopaths entertain regs (nonhemopath patrons) with transformative illusions that manipulate what others see and feel. Arts—literary, musical, visual, theatrical—are their instruments. Hemopath abilities vary in kind and strength; like their friend Saint, the girls are exceptionally talented. A life-threatening aversion to iron leaves hemopaths vulnerable. Corinne, her condition unknown to her Boston Brahmin family, finds her brother’s forthcoming marriage into the family whose asylum abducts hemopaths for horrific experimentation despicable. Ada’s African-immigrant family was torn apart by her father’s unjust imprisonment. Her mother knows Ada’s a hemopath but disapproves of her job. As laws governing hemopaths tighten, police surveillance and arrests at the clubs increase. Amid growing threats, romances blossom—Ada’s with a performer at a rival club, Corrine’s with the enigmatic reg hired to protect the Cast Iron before the mobster owner disappears—but the novel’s heart is friendship. In Soria’s quick-paced third-person narrative, threats gather and mysteries deepen, failing or succeeding, but the girls’ mutual loyalty and trust never waver.
Energetic and original, this alternative history, fantasy, and mystery mashup with its pair of smart, resourceful, flawed but engaging heroines never disappoints. (Historical fantasy. 12-18)