Hello NJB fans! We’re thrilled to get back in the saddle with you for this lovely piece, ‘Iron and Velvet’ by Alexis Hall. Its fun, its pulpy, its queer, what’s not to love?
But first, content and trigger warnings. There’s a pretty decent amount of gore and fighting in this book, as well as a bit of body horror. I would rank it somewhere around an episode of Supernatural, with vampire stakings and really gross bug monster kind of things. There’s an off screen death of a secondary character who we never meet prior to the book opening and the character does deal with some grief on that part. There’s conflict as well between the main character and her mother. There’s also a controlling, jerk ex boyfriend who definitely doesn’t understand boundaries at all. I suspect its a rather hilarious satire of Edward from Twilight, but it has a few squick moments where he doesn’t respect the main character’s agency. Nothing worse than an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer most days, but if you’re looking for something fluffy, you might want to page past or pick something different to read for the day. Lastly, the main character does have some difficulties with abusing alcohol for part of the book. If you want more details, feel free as always to DM me on twitter @ShivaniSWriting.
Ok, now on to the squeee! This book was just an utter delight to read, start to finish.
Its like if you took Harry Dresden from his early books, transformed him into a lesbian woman and then sent her on a series of mysteries that she bounded through with all the disaster in her soul. There’s beautiful, dangerous women everywhere, vampires, faeries, poor choices galore. There’s pacts made without enough forethought, ex girlfriends who are also ludicrously powerful witches, coitus interruptus by strange, horrible beasts from the deep with lamprey mouths (don’t worry, its just an attack and nothing weird involving the monster happens.)
Its funny, its snarky, I genuinely was intrigued by the mystery that the main character is trying to solve and I had such a soft spot for her and her disaster decision making skills by the end. Also, the romance in the book, while odd at moments, is charming and utterly believable. The depiction of grief that’s done is also believable and I found myself pretty invested in the character early on. There’s also discussion of the fact that the character hasn’t always identified as a lesbian and its done well in my opinion and realistically.
Things that weren’t perfect: I couldn’t tell if the feel of the masculine gaze occasionally intruding was a manifestation of the sort of noir feel of the books or something from the author. It didn’t put me off but it occasionally drew me out of the zone. However, it doesn’t feel as though the sex scenes are gratuitous or based on stereotypes, so it was more of a niggling thing than anything else.
I also almost wanted to break this book up into two or have a little more time with some of the scenes. But that might just be me wanting more.
All in all, I loved it and I want to read the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it. 5 stars and I’m looking forward to rereading it again soon, cause its just the perfect sort of thing for around Halloween.
TL;DR If you’re looking for something that feels a lot like early Buffy without having to deal with the ramifications of supporting its previous creator, I suspect you’d like this. Plus, no sex shaming!
Until next time,
Not Just a Buzzword