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Jan 06

Iron Night – M.L. Brennan

About the Book

Underemployed by day. Undead by night. 

Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.

Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.

The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.

Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.

320 pages (paperback)
Published on January 7, 2014
Published by Roc
Author’s webpage

This book was provided for me to review by the publisher.

Iron Night has been on my radar since M.L. Brennan released her first book, Generation V. Generation V was fun, a very unique twist on a stale genre, and it put the author on the map. Iron Night is something totally and completely different. While it has the same tone and thematic elements as the first book, it really shows the author’s potential. If Generation V was wonderful, then Iron Night is over-the-moon spectacular.

Urban Fantasy feels like a rather fluid genre to me, and that’s part of the reason why I pick on it so much. A series might start out with a cool detective who-done-it feel, and two books in it will change and obviously be a series focused around romance. That’s fine, and it seems to work for most people, but it hasn’t ever really worked for me. That’s one thing that I can’t say for Brennan. The second book feels much the same as the first in terms of characters, world, plot, and various developments. That’s not saying that surprising things don’t happen, but it is saying that the series doesn’t suddenly turn into a soft-core porn type thing. Props for that.

The characters grow and develop quite a bit from Generation V. Fortitude Scott is still the same old Fortitude Scott from the last novel, but he has more responsibilities and he is inevitably maturing, which he is coming to terms with. He seems more at peace with his place in the world, and it gives him an easier manner regarding his relationship to his family that he lacked in the previous book. There’s less strain about him, and more ease which gives way to humor. Suzume, the kitsune shifter, was the absolute light of the book for me. She had a humor that would make me break out in laughter (and my husband thinking I am insane). She brings a levity to the book that made the pages just fly by. Fort’s brother, Chivalry, is also a fun addition to the book. Fort’s family interactions are awkward in the extreme and that can often be fairly hilarious.

All of this is to say that the characters are all in line with who they were before, but they are more well rounded, better developed than they were in Generation V. They are real, and the nice addition of humor (in numerous shades) makes a fairly dark plot a lot of fun, which I wouldn’t expect. Brennan has a way about her where she manages to balance the light and the dark elements of her plot perfectly, and it really is something to savor. In fact, her ability to write a kick-ass plot and fuel it with these unforgettable, absolutely real characters is what makes this book fly by. I expected to spend a few days reading it, but instead I read it in a day, one sitting, actually. I couldn’t put it down.

That’s the magic here. There’s the main plot and plenty of side plots, as well as some very well done, very understated romantic tension. In fact, it is kind of surprising what Brennan can accomplish in a fairly short book. The murder mystery takes center stage, but around this is a stew of interesting developments, from Fort’s personal and physical developments, the relationships with his family, the rule of his mother, his relationship with Suze, power struggles, and so much more. While many of these elements might be understated, they are there, and Brennan develops them and moves them along deftly. She’s got a skill with development in both plot and characters that she really shows off in Iron Night.

The ending feels natural and not the least bit rushed, which is a complaint I commonly have with shorter books. Many of the plot threads are tied neatly together, but there are enough left open that it is obvious that more books in the series are planned. In fact, I cannot wait for those other books. So much was accomplished and so many side plots were left open, that I am beyond thrilled to see where Brennan takes this series next.

So what am I saying here? Basically, I loved this book. I absolutely loved it. Every aspect of Iron Night was done with thought and a wry sort of grace that just worked on every single level. This is urban fantasy the way it should be done. Brennan is a master of her craft. Iron Night is layered, and nuanced, and full of humor and laugh-out-loud moments. The characters are the kind of people I’d like to spend a night with at a bar. Interesting, but believable, and down to earth despite their somewhat surreal elements. Iron Night is a feat; it sets the bar incredibly high, and shows everyone just how fantastic, fun, and thoughtful this genre can be when in the hands of a master.

 

5/5 stars

1 comment

1 ping

  1. Cheryl @cherylreads

    I can’t wait to pick up a copy! Why oh why doesn’t my local librarian read your reviews and stock the good ones immediately??!

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