The following review is a collection of my personal thoughts and comments on the book, Ironheart, by Jodi McAlister, the second book in the Valentine series.
Excerpts from the book, Ironheart, have been used (without the authors permission) to highlight some of my favorite parts of the book, and give readers of the review a taste of what makes the book so great. I highly recommend it.
With my other hand, I fling the bag away and run.
We’re in the bush, but I can still see the lights of my house. Disey’s window is it up all warm and buttery and golden, and I run towards it, everything hurting, everything screaming, and –
Wait. No. I’m going the wrong way. That’s my house over there.
I turn, sprinting towards the right lights, but they’re not right at all, because ky house os over THERE, and there, and there, and there.
I almost don’t hear her laughing at first, because her laugh is like the wind in the trees, the sound of silver bells, the sound of moonlight, what cherries would taste like, and it is just another melody in the tangle of melodies twisting themselves around my mind.
But then I see her, and I know that I’m going to die.
She’s a fairy. There’s no doubt about that. The trees and shrubs have twisted together to make a throne for her. There are wild blackberries dangling right near her head but not tangling in her long red hair, as if they’re too frightened too. Looking at her is like hearing a piece of music that you feel deep in your gut, one that makes you shiver, makes your heart race, gives you goosebumps. And looking at her is lke staring into aa star, distant but impossibly near, beautiful, sparkly, but too much to be this close too.
She’s the most beautiful girl i’ve ever seen, and I know her, because her face was once my own.
Ironheart is the second installment of the Valentine series. And while it’s not as creepy and scary as Valentine is, Ironheart still manages to keep your heart racing as the drama and chaos and terror continues to wreck havoc in Haylesford. Or more specifically, Pearl Linfords life, despite the agreement that Pearl and her friend Finn reached with the Seelie faires, in the final chapters of the last book.
Lets use Pearl Linford’s cover letter from Ironheart to recap:
I am a keen and eager young individual with a great attitude. I am a quick learner, as well as being punctual, enthusiastic, responsible and a hard worker. I have excellent organizational skills and am a strong problem-solver who is capable of working alone and in a team.
I recently overcame significant adversity when pursued by fairies who thought I was their long lost changeling child. Some of them wanted to kidnap me, some of them wanted to kill me, but I managed to stay alive (though it’s not like I had anything to do with it – this guy that I can’t stop having intensely sexy dreams about saved the day while I nearly got eaten like a moron). I had to quit my last job because I’m now terrified of water. I spend all my time outside school and the job I no longer have tyring to recreate a piece of music I once heard a bunch of fairies playing in the woods. (It was the soundtrack to them forcing a girl to dance on hot coals, and I’m obsessed with it that I’ve nearly broken my fingers from so much time in front of my keyboard.)
I avoid my problems rather than deal with them. I avoid people rather then deal with them. I am completely emotionally dysfunctional. I lie about everything all the time, because if I told the truth, a) you’d lock me up in a mental hospital, and b) I’d probably get you killed. Which I’ll probably do by working for you, so yes, you should absolutely employ me.
So basically, Pearl Linford and Finn Blacklin, and all the other affected teenagers of the town, are still being haunted and taunted by the fairies. And then two more forces of foreign powers enter the playing field, one of them an ancient group of assassins, and the other is called Tam.
This is how our wonderful main character, Pearl Linford explains her relationship with Tam;
‘Oh hey, you haven’t heard the big news yet,’ Shad says.
‘What big news?’
‘Our cousin Tam is coming to stay for a while,’ Disey says. ‘He dropped out of school- you know how he is – so -‘
‘No, I do not know how he is,’ I reply. ‘Who the hell is Tam?’
‘Come on Pearlie, you remember Tam,’ Shad says. ‘Aunt Liz’s kid? The only one of our relatives that’s remotely your age?’
‘Since when has Aunt Liz had kids?’ I say. Fear is shooting through my chest like thousands of tiny little knives.
‘Since six months before you [were] born,’ Shad says. ‘I can’t believe you don’t remember him. You do remember Aunt Liz, right?’
‘Of course I remember my own mother’s twin sister, Shad. But she doesn’t have children!’
‘Um yes she does Pearlie.’ Disey says….
…I stop listening.
This has ‘fairies’ written all over it. No, it has ‘scary redhead bride of Finn who seems totally cool with killing people or zombifying them if they don’t do what she wants’ written all over it.
‘Pearl! You’re home!’ Disey says brightly. ‘Meet Tam.’
It isn’t Finn, of course. There are differences. Quite a few of them, once I get over the initial shock of the first impression…..
….Finn has green eyes that look almost black if the light hits them wrong but Tam’s are the same normal, everyday brownas mine.
As mine, and as Disey’s, and as Shad’s. Because he’s a Linford.
Like hell he is.
‘Hi.’ I say, offering him my hand. ‘I’m Pearl.’
And though I’m wearing my iron rings and am literally covered in iron dust, he takes my hands without a flicker of hesitation. ‘Tam,’ he replies, and pointedly does not burst into flames.
He doesn’t even wince….
…Human. He’s human…
Maybe he is human. But he’s not a Linford. Linford’s are talkers. Sure, what we say might not always be exactly coherent, but we can babble with the best of them….
I find myself hoping that he really is a fairy pawn and he comes out with it and gets down to fairy business, purely to give us something to talk about.
‘Ill see you later,’ he says abruptly. ‘I have things to do.’
And after the most eloquent phrase he has ever uttered, Tam just walks off.
He just. Walks. Off.
Can you say rude?
Maybe hes a fairy minion or maybe he’s just a constellation of amazing coincidences, but there’s one thing I know for sure about the mud kid; he’s a douchebag.
A suspicious douchebag, I tell myself, wandering back along Main Street. He’s been here less than a day and he had things to do? That smacks of fairy shenanigans to me. And the Julian thing? They have absolutely been partying on down at Club Seelie.
But he’s human. I mean, Julian is too, but…ow wow, maybe he has that much faith in his game that his ‘thing to do,’ is Julian.
1) Tam is supposedly Pearl’s cousin (not that Pearl believes it for one bit)
2) Tam is a dead look alike of Finn
3) Tam is weird
And 4) Pearl doesn’t trust him one bit.
Ironheart is another 5 star book for me as it’s hilariously funny, and full of drama and chaos. It really is one of the best second books in a series that I’ve read. You know how usually the second book falls short? This one doesn’t. There is no slowing down. The stakes are raised, and the story picks up almost instantly. As well as being a great story that you don’t want to put down, there is a lot of strong character development, as well as just enough back story and history/past fill-ins woven in the story to really flesh out the characters without distracting the reader from the present.
A great book! A wonderful installment into the Valentine series, and one that everyone should read!
Review by Zakky MC
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.
Jodi is the author of the Valentine series, a young adult paranormal romance/urban fantasy series about smart girls, small towns, and scary fairies. There are three books in the series available: Valentine (2017), Ironheart (2018), and Misrule (2019), all published by Penguin Teen Australia. If Picnic at Hanging Rock meets Holly Black sounds like something you’d be into, these are the books for you.
Jodi is originally from Kiama, a seaside holiday town on the south coast of New South Wales, and has lived in a bunch of different cities: Canberra (where she did her undergrad degrees), Wollongong (where she lived while she did her PhD in Sydney), and Hobart (where she held her first academic job) among them. Currently, she lives in Melbourne, where she works as a Lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University.
When she’s not writing about clever girls and cunning fairies, Jodi is an academic. Her research focuses on representations of love in popular culture and fiction. It means that reading romance novels and watching (and let’s be real, writing huge amounts about) The Bachelor/ette is technically work for her.
You can find Jodi on Twitter at @JodiMcA, where she tweets regularly about her research, her writing, cool things she finds interesting, her hero worship of Kate Bush, and her slightly-too-intense passion for The Bold and the Beautiful.
(She’s not joking about that last one. In 2015, she got invited to visit the set of The Bold and the Beautiful, and it was the best thing that has ever happened to her in her entire life.)
I’d like to thank Hayley for allowing me to use her fantastic, gorgeous and most beautiful Instagram pic of Ironheart you can follow Hayley on her Instagram account: @bookmuncher where you can see more of her spectacular bookish photos!