Pearl Linford is stuck. Her best friend won’t talk to her. She’s promised never to lie to her siblings again, so she’s not exactly talking to them. And she’s waiting for the right moment to forgive Finn Blacklin, but she doesn’t know when that is.
In Ironheart, the follow-up novel to Valentine, Pearl and Finn face a new threat. The Unseelie fairies have infiltrated their town, and they’ve unleashed a new horror on them – a bunch of wild, uncontrollable, angry supernatural hunters.
On top of all this, Pearl has to a) win her best friend Phil back, b) deal with the fact that her brother is marrying his awful girlfriend, c) do something about the fact that Julian might want to kill her, d) somehow convince the internet she’s not a murderer, e) maintain a presence on the Haylesford indie music scene, f) try and get over her new phobia of water, g) find time for her new job at OverWrought, and h) attend high school.
Oh, and i) pencil in time to go on an actual proper date with Finn. If she can manage that without evil fairies trying to kill them.
And you know what? This is a lot for one seventeen-year-old girl to handle. No wonder Pearl is so full of rage all the time . . . but that rage might be drawing the attention of some very dangerous people.
Cover image and description sourced from Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34100652-ironheart?from_search=true
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Because this wonderful novel, the first book whose release I had been anticipating in 2018, was even better than I had dreamed, and left me desperately searching Goodreads to find out when the next instalment is going to be released.
I feel like I need to start this review with a disclaimer: I am rather biased about this book. It is a YA fantasy book, written by an Australia author, and set in Australia, which meant that I was a little bit in love with the series before I had even read the first page of the first book! Luckily, the first book was so wonderful that I think it would have quickly become a favourite even if it hadn’t meant so much to me personally, and I was so excited for the release of the second book in the series, which I finished yesterday.
I loved Valentine because of its unusual and intriguing story line, realistic characters, and witty writing style, and all those elements carried through to Ironheart. The mythology of the world McAlister has created was further developed in this sequel, and it has become one of my favourite fictional worlds. I love the way she takes well known myths and legends and weaves them into her story, creating a wonderfully detailed mythos that feels incredibly real. As you are reading, you get the sense that McAlister has devoted a lot of time to researching and developing her world, and that gives it a gravitas that can sometimes be hard to achieve in fantasy.
The depth and realism of McAlister’s world is further strengthened by her characters. Every single one of her characters felt genuine and real to me as I was reading, and I could relate to them in a way that I struggle to in many stories. The characters are diverse, complex, and multi-faceted, and they think and act in ways that I would expect real people to think and act if they were faced with similar situations. I particularly loved the pop-culture references that were scattered throughout the story; sometimes pop-culture references come across as forced, as if the author is trying their best to be hip and relatable but doesn’t really know what they are talking about, but that was never the case in Ironheart. Everything the characters said and did and referenced came across as genuine, and I could vividly imagine myself or my friends saying or doing the same things.
The romance between Pearl and Finn was something I struggled with a little bit in Valentine. The inclusion of romantic subplots in action and adventure stories is a major pet peeve of mine, and I have been known to yell at (or grumble quietly at if I am in a cinema and would rather not get thrown out) characters who get caught up in relationship drama while the world is ending around them. While the romance subplot continues in Ironheart, and if anything plays an even larger part, I didn’t find myself getting annoyed at it at all. I think this is predominantly because of the thoughts and reactions of Pearl to her blossoming romance. I vividly remember how overwhelming relationships can be as a teenager, and I love the fact that McAlister so accurately represents this while also acknowledging how frustrating and inconvenient it can be. Pearl becomes annoyed with herself for getting distracted by Finn on numerous occasions, and no matter where things are in their relationship she prioritises the problems they are facing over spending time with him – she is not going to let relationship drama get in the way of her saving the day, and I loved that so much.
I could happily write paragraphs more detailing every little thing I loved about this book, but I am going to try and show some self control and leave things here, so that you can discover the many hidden gems within this world for yourself when you read it, which I definitely recommend doing as soon as you can!
A wonderful continuation of a fantasy series I adore, full of relatable characters and with an intriguing, complex and detailed mythology that I can’t wait to explore further. This book successfully pulled me out of a reading rut, and had me constantly excited to find out what happened next!