Cover Image: City of Iron and Dust

City of Iron and Dust

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Member Reviews

This book has a lot of things going for it. It's got a cool setting and an interesting premise. It’s got a very diverse set of characters, none of whom are really “good” or “evil” in the traditional sense (though certainly some are better people than others). It’s set over a short period of time - literally a single night - which is a thing I’ve come to realize I really love. I didn’t end up enjoying it quite as much as I expected I would, but it’s still a good, fun read.

The premise here is that, a generation prior to the book, the goblins conquered the fae after centuries of being subjugated by them. The fae are not *quite* slaves, but they only just miss the mark. Their lives are absolutely dominated by the goblins. The fae population all live in the Iron City, which the goblins built after their conquest. The entire city is surrounded by a thick wall of iron, keeping the fae trapped and cutting them off from the natural world and, by extension, their magic.

The book is about an uprising. It’s not the first by any stretch, though all the ones so far have been swiftly and brutally crushed by the goblins. There are a lot of elements at play here, though.

The center of the book is a narcotic known as Dust. When on Dust, the fae regain access to their magic. They can make flowers grow, healers can use their powers to fix injuries, and (of particular interest to the rebels) they can use their magic for war. Dust is, however, a narcotic; taking enough to do anything of significance has serious consequences, and the tenements of the Iron City are filled with junkies in search of that next magical high.

The rebellion hopes this uprising will be different, thanks to the massive amount of Dust they’ve smuggled into the city. Enough that, if a fae were willing to sacrifice themself, could be used to annihilate the goblins. This block of Dust is the center of the story: most of the action is driven by the efforts of all sides in the conflict to gain control of it.

The cast of POV characters include: a low-level Dust dealer who has seen his parents destroyed by their addiction; his artist brother, who hopes to inspire change in the Iron City through his work; assorted young revolutionaries, who reluctantly interrupt their arguments about theory to fight goblins; the organizers of the rebellion; a goblin princess, who sincerely wants to make things better for everyone; her half-goblin-half-fae bodyguard, who both sides see as alien; and the elderly dowager of one of the goblin houses, determined to return to the center of power.

This entire book has the feel of both a noir film and *Les Miserables*. The parallels of Dust to heroin (or other drug of choice) are obvious; several of the characters want it simply because that much pure Dust is worth a whole, whole lot of money. Oakes does a good job of telling out the story, gradually spinning out the layers and layers of the tale and gradually letting the reader find out all the intricacies of the assorted plots as they unfold. There’s violence, people die, and the ending is ultimately a satisfying one. It’s standalone, though the world has room for a sequel if Oakes wants to make one. Overall, though, I hope he resists that temptation; I’d rather leave things wrapped up where they are.

This is Oakes’ debut, and I’m interested to see what comes out next.
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Thanks to NetGalley, Titan Books and the author for providing this ARC!

Ooh I was not sure what to expect with this book but I really loved it. A gritty, fast-paced story taking place over one dramatic night, this book was thick with tension and the stakes were sky high. The different POVs from both sides of the war being fought between fae and goblins were so cleverly done and the writing was smart and witty and the chapter titles were a bit of a highlight. The world-building was excellent, and the backstory of the Iron City was woven seamlessly into the story. It did take me a little while to keep up with all the characters and how they related to each other, but once I got them all straight in my mind this was a great read!
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Short Version:  A jam packed book that is more than just a Goblins V Fae story.  

Long version:  

The Plot:  The plot of this book is fantastic, it crams so many elements in.  We’ve got; evil oppressors, a rebellion of the oppressed, political shenanigans, a heist, betrayals, back stabbing, drugs, poverty, art and love.   The author weaves all of these things together really well so it never feels like it’s too much and all the elements get the right amount of attention.  

The very early scenes suggest a comedy farce with a package changing hands and constantly being lost but it settles very quickly into something quite serious and dark.  While the plot is entertaining, and for me is what everything else hangs off, it does deal with some pretty dark elements.  Even just looking at the poverty and addiction elements, for me they are depicted realistically and handled sensitively, being critical elements of the plot they are neither belaboured nor glamorised which is an impressive line to walk.  

The Setting:   The setting is as much a part of the story as the characters and the plot and I love that in a book.  I think that having the fae physically unable to leave the city they are prisoners in (and that is killing them) is genius, it adds that little bit more complexity around decisions and reasoning.  

The Characters:  The characters throughout this book are brilliant, I fully expect Goblins to be petty and spiteful even if they are the ones in charge and that is exactly what JP gave me.  Although I liked the fae characters, I liked the gobbos more.  Their society set up and friction between different groups was superb. 

The Prose:  Nice flow with good rhythm. 

The Pace:  Faster and lighter than you would expect given the sheer volume of stuff and detail that is covered.   

Who would love this?  Anyone looking to dip their toes into Grimdark and anyone who likes their fantasy to be a little bit different will love this.
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The blurb was appealing to me, yet I did not enjoy the book as much as I was expecting. Unpopular opinion but the story wasn't remotely page-turner or exciting. The introduction to all characters was brief and quick, made it hard for me to connect to the plot. which could highly likely be the reason I didn't enjoy the story altogether.
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This was, sadly, not the right book for me. I loved the chapters' titles, they were funny and brilliant. And I enjoyed the writing. But I need to feel the characters, to be drawn by them, and this was not the case. Sil was an amazing character, she was a surprise, even if she suffered so much!! But all the others weren't the right one for me, even if in the beginning I quite enjoyed Granny Spreggan. 
It was too dark, and too fragmented and nightamrish for my tastes, sadly!
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2.5 stars

Most of the reviews for this book are 4 stars reviews, and I completely understand why. I do believe that this is a very good book, but it is not a book for me. 

I will start by saying that the author’s writing style is a little different from what I’m used to, but I really liked it. I am not sure if I would categorize this as a fantasy or an urban fantasy... It does happen in a fictive world, but they do have cars, microwaves, and other modern technologies, so I am not really sure...

The idea that the faes are oppressed is already a fresh and new concept since we are used to faes being almighty, and super strong. 50 years ago, the goblins won the war and now the faes are forced to live in iron cities that cut off their magic. They are poor, work in mines or lines of construction, and their lifespan is shortened now that they can't access their magic and live in poverty. Many are addicted to Dust, a drug that gives them the impression to be in communion with nature again for a brief moment, and many are also becoming restless, and wish for a change.

The world-building is well done and the ideas are good, but I would still have liked to have more details about the two sides of the rebellion: their strengths, their beliefs, their struggles, their revendications… That kind of information. 

I also have to say that I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I could have because of the characters. I honestly didn’t care about a single character in this book. We follow 8 “main characters” in this book, and each one of them has its own chapters. I find that they had no depth, and were not really likable (in their defense they were not un-likable too, they were just bland). The fact that everything happens over one single night does not give us much time to get to know the characters either, and there is obviously no real character development.

The plot is complex enough to be interesting, but at the same time, there were many things going on at the same time, some of them did not seem that necessary or useful to the plot. There is a fae uprising, some powerful goblin families are scheming against each other, and a drug dealer is trying to make one huge deal so he can start a new and better life… And those are only the main plotlines, there are also many smaller events happening to each set of characters. Because of these “extras” happening, it created moments where the pace dragged on a little, and sometimes it felt a little all over the place. That being said, it is still what I would describe as a medium/quick read.

Sadly, I did not enjoy this novel that much, but I can see why it has so many great reviews, and I do think that this was mostly a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.
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I was given a free copy of City of Iron and Dust by J.P. Oakes (author), Titan Books (publisher) and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

This review will be spoiler free.

I would characterize City of Iron and Dust an urban fantasy featuring fae beings such as pixies, sprites, dryads, kobolds, and goblins.

The world building for this story is a strength.  The story takes place over one night in a city that has a large iron gate surrounding the city and features a struggle between the subservient fae beings and goblins who are in positions of power and privilege.  The story takes place in what appears to be modern times because the characters use guns, drive cars, and dance at nightclubs.  The city is large and depicts parts to be very rundown and poor where the fae beings live and well-kept, secure, and orderly where the goblins live.

The backstory of City of Iron and Dust is there was a war between the goblins and fae beings a long time ago, and the goblins were the victors and spoils go to the victors. The goblins build a large iron gate around the city which had a negative impact on the fae beings and their access to magic.  As a result, the fae beings suffer significant health problems.

During the night that this story takes place, a number of events happen including a fae uprising, goblin families are at war with each other, and a small-time crook is trying to make one last score so he could get out from under his tough and rough life to make a new start.

The beginning of the story captured my interest due to some of the characters and situations were introduced such as the small-time crook trying to make one last score and the goblin grandmother who is trying to take control of her family from her daughter by instigating a war with other goblin families.

My problem with this story started to appear after I realized that each chapter is comprised of short scenes featuring a few characters, but not a main character.  It was difficult for me to get invested in this story because I thought the short scenes prevented me from really knowing and understanding the characters and their motivations.  I think I would have preferred if Mr. Oakes would have featured less plot points and expanded and fleshed them out.  I believe it would have meant less characters, but they would have been more developed and three-dimensional.  While I read the story, I could not connect with any of the characters because they appeared to be two-dimensional and served the story as opposed to the story serving the characters.

I wanted to like City of Iron and Dust because it has an interesting premise and backstory, but I did not because I did not like the execution.

I read sixty-two percent of the story before I stopped because I was not engaged in the story or any of its characters.

I rate City of Iron and Dust 2 stars.

I would like to thank J.P. Oakes, Titan Books, and Netgalley for the free ARC.
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I knew I'm gonna enjoy 𝑪𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝑰𝒓𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑫𝒖𝒔𝒕 by J.P Oakes upon reading the first chapter's title: "Three A******s Walk Into a Bar"

𝑪𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝑰𝒓𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑫𝒖𝒔𝒕 is like a high fueled car, the action and fighting never stops! The writing was engaging and witty. The world was intriguing. It has technology and magic at the same time!

Fast-paced, action-packed, and a plot that will unfold in one night?! Sign me up! Will definitely watch out for more books that J.P. Oakes will publish 🤩
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City of Iron and Dust by J.P. Oakes is a great dark and gritty fantasy debut. Although the blurb sounded cool, I didn't really have strong expectations for this either way so this was quite a pleasant surprise. It's a contemporary noir-ish fairytale with goblins and the fae in a modern urban setting with just the perfect dash of humor. This combination really worked for me as did the political intrigue, fast pace, the action, and multiple and distinct POVs. Overall, this is well worth your time, especially if you like The Carter Archives by Dan Stout. This debut deserves a lot of love and I can't wait to read more from J.P. Oakes in the future.
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Allegories are fiddly things, to be useful the reader has to be able to decipher them, but to be narratively interesting they can't be too obvious. Equally an allegory can get so broad to be meaningless - I understand that the X-Men may be a substitute for all discriminated people but if you are - say - Jean Grey and can pass and have awesome superpowers too I am not sure how much that really resonates with the black communities of the American South. The City Of Iron And Dust presses its allegory accelerator to the floor in Chapter One and keeps it there happily through the book, but gets away with it mainly because of its breathless snapshot of a night. Oh, and this is a fantasy with no humans in it.

So we are in the City Of Iron (the Dust in question is a drug), which is ruled by Goblins. The city is full of other fae (a word that usually makes me run for the hills), Dryads, and Dyads, and Pixies and various mixes of them, and indeed Goblins, but any non-gob is is exploited and very much an underclass. There isn't really any magic any more, and the technological level is cars and fixed telephones - it felt quite sixties or seventies or even noir to me. And it rolls like a slice of life underworld crime novel, there is a power struggle between the ruling Houses, the rebellious heir of House Red is targeted for assassination and lost in the streets of the city with only her half pixie half sister bodyguard. At the same time a political demonstration turns into a riot and into a potential revolution and a big bag of the drug Dust (which can stimulate latent magic in fae) is bouncing around like a big old McGuffin. There were a few too many strands for my liking to start off with, and Oakes is not shy about picking up and dropping (and/or killing) viewpoint characters at will. But it does all come together and the combination of crime, politics, art and coming of age did end up working for me.

Its not perfect, the jokey chapter headings felt unnecessary, and I am not sure if the last plot reveal really worked for me. But i think the book plays a relatively straight bat with its allegory, the coming of age character Jag moves from idealistic and naive to idealistic and aware of her position in the systemic discrimination. Equally the revolutionary's own naivety and propensity to split felt well observed. It does use its fantasy but not really setting to dodge and elide real world questions which would complicate it, and whilst I don't think it quite reached the levels of The Goblin Emperor in worldbuilding political savvy, it does replace it with the chaos of a roots up revolution which I hadn't seen done before. So a little rough and ready in places, but it worked where it mattered and I would be interested to see more from this author (and whilst this felt appropriately self contained, maybe this world).
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☆☆☆☆ /5

Ce roman était tout simplement époustouflant ! L’auteur m’a complètement emportée dans son récit sombre et épic.
¤
Iron City est une prison, un labyrinthe, un fléau industriel. C'est le résultat d'une guerre qui a vu les Gobelins broyer les Fae sous leurs talons de bottes collectifs. Et ce soir, c'est aussi une ville qui bouillonne de vie. Ce soir, un jeune fae essaie de faire fortune via des affaires de drogue ; une princesse gobelin cherche un chemin entre ses propres rêves et les attentes des autres ; son garde du corps décide qui tuer en premier ; un artiste cherche sa propre voix ; un vieux soldat commence une nouvelle révolution ; un jeune rebelle trouve de nouvelles façons de se battre ; et une vieille femme rêve de reprendre son pouvoir sur eux tous. Ce soir, toutes leurs histoires se confondent, enroulées autour d'un seul sac de Poussière -la seule drogue qui peut encore alimenter la magie des Faes- et leur destin changera Iron City pour toujours.
¤
Encore une fois, on reste dans un schéma plutôt classique du roman choral dans le genre de la fantasy. Et encore une fois, j’ai adoré. Lorsque les histoires regorgent de beaucoup de personnages, qui ont un fort potentiel d’évolution, ce sont dans les romans choraux qu’ils s’épanouissent et le lecteur avec.
En alternant les points de vue, on découvre vraiment des personnages haut en couleur. Entre la grand-mère qui a soif de pouvoir, la princesse gobelin qui se cherche, le jeune fae un peu naïf qui essaye de se faire de l’argent et bien d’autres… Je dois dire qu’ils m’ont fait ressentir la sensation d’un vent de fraîcheur et j’ai bien aimé apprendre à les connaître. Ils sont tous différents, n’ont pas le même passé, ni le même futur et pour leur destin à chacun est lié. Chacun de leurs gestes, de leurs actions, de leurs paroles vont influencer la vie à Iron City. L’effet n’est pas forcément immédiat mais en tout cas, rien n’est perdu. Tout a des conséquences.
L’auteur nous plonge dans un univers plutôt sombre entre guerre et oppression. Malgré cela, l’auteur allège son histoire en évoquant l’espoir, l’optimisme d’un monde meilleur. Je dois dire que j’ai beaucoup souri durant ma lecture, mais j’ai également senti mon cœur se déchirer lors des moments plus difficiles. Aussi, j’ai énormément aimé le fait qu’il y avait beaucoup de diversité au niveau des espèces. J’étais quelques fois perdus mais j’ai découvert des êtres différents autant dans leur race que dans leur personnalité.
D’ailleurs, en plus d’avoir apprécié le fond de ce texte, j’ai apprécié la forme aussi ! Je dois dire que les titres de chapitres m’ont parfois fait rire et l’auteur sait user de son humour. En tout cas, je recommande cette lecture pour ceux qui aiment la dark-fantasy et qui lisent en anglais !

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ENGLISH REVIEW:

This book was simply breathtaking! I really loved this dark and epic story!
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The Iron City is a prison, a maze, an industrial blight. It is the result of a war that saw the Goblins grind the Fae beneath their collective boot heels. And tonight, it is also a city that churns with life. Tonight, a young fae is trying to make his fortune one drug deal at a time; a goblin princess is searching for a path between her own dreams and others' expectations; her bodyguard is deciding who to kill first; an artist is hunting for his own voice; an old soldier is starting a new revolution; a young rebel is finding fresh ways to fight; and an old woman is dreaming of reclaiming her power over them all. Tonight, all their stories are twisting together, wrapped up around a single bag of Dust--the only drug that can still fuel Fae magic--and its fate and theirs will change the Iron City forever.
¤
Once again, we remain in a rather classic scheme of choral book in the genre of fantasy. And once again, I loved it. When the stories are filled with many characters, who have a great potential for evolution, it.s in choral books that they flourish and the reader along with them.
By alternating points of view, we really discover colorful characters. Between the grandmother who thirsts for power, the goblin princess who seeks herself, the young, and naive fae who tries to make money and many others… I must say that they made me feel the feeling of a breeze of freshness and I enjoyed getting to know them. They are all different, they don’t have the same past or the same future but their fates are linked. Each of their gestures, their actions, their words will influence life in Iron City. The effect isn’t necessarily immediate, but in any case, nothing is lost. Everything has consequences.
The author plunges us into a rather dark universe between war and oppression. Despite this, the author lightens his story by evoking hope, optimism for a better world. I have to say that I smiled a lot during my reading, but I also felt my heart tear during the more difficult times. Moreover, I really liked the fact that there was a lot of diversity at the species level. I was lost a few times but I discovered different people as much in their race as in their personality.
Besides, in addition to appreciating the content of this text, I liked the form too! I must say that the chapter titles have sometimes made me laugh and the author knows how to use his humor. In any case, I recommend this reading for those who like dark-fantasy!
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A gritty and unique fantasy novel featuring Fae and goblins. Fae and goblins live together in the Iron City where Fae are subjugated by goblins. Fae are forced to work in various jobs, including mining, where they are slowly being poisoned by iron in which they developed fatal cancers. The story follows various characters as they participate or are caught up in a rebel. 

I loved the plot as it was the perfect blend of action, gore, violence and suspense. I was never sure what was going to happen as no character was safe from death. The ending was a surprise, I was hoping for a happily ever after but instead I’m giving a realistic ending where everything doesn’t get their Knight in shining armor or their dream castle. 

The characters were great with a wide range of characters,  species, and personalities. No character is truly good or bad and instead their choices are motivated by their desires and past. I really hate stereotypical bad guys in which they do bad things because their bad guys, so I was glad that wasn’t present here. There was a wide range of Fae species, so to casual fantasy readers they may get confused. I ended up Googling the various types of Fae as I was curious but this isn’t necessary to the story. 

The world building was good but I wish a tad bit more history on the types of Fae and the war was added. A great prequel novel would be about the initial war between the Fae and goblins that occurred centuries ago. 

Another random thing I liked was the chapter titles. They were satirically dark. Some of my favorite were “Three Assholes Walk Into a Bar”, or “The View From Rock Bottom”. 

Overall this was a great dark fantasy novel. Normally I’m not a fan of dark fantasy (too much gore) but I enjoyed this novel as I loved the premise of the story. I would strongly recommend this novel to dark fantasy fans. 

Thank you to Titan Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC!

The Iron City is a prison, a maze, an industrial blight. It is the result of a war that saw the goblins grind the fae beneath their collective boot heels. And tonight, it is also a city that churns with life. Tonight, a young fae is trying to make his fortune one drug deal at a time; a goblin princess is searching for a path between her own dreams and others’ expectations; her bodyguard is deciding who to kill first; an artist is hunting for his own voice; an old soldier is starting a new revolution; a young rebel is finding fresh ways to fight; and an old goblin is dreaming of reclaiming her power over them all. Tonight, all their stories are twisting together, wrapped up around a single bag of Dust—the only drug that can still fuel fae magic—and its fate and theirs will change the Iron City forever. 

A fantasy book with a goblin as the main character??? 
This is going to be the first. I really want to like the story but it just feel flat to me. So a 3 stars!
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Thank you so much to Titan Books and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I'm going to be clear with the fact that I wanted to love this book. An urban fantasy with entirely non-human characters? An uprising where fae are the oppressed and trying to overthrow their goblin oppressors? The whole concept sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, this did not work for me, and I can't say exactly why. I'm not sure if it truly counts as a DNF, as I read up until 60% and then skimmed the rest and read the last chapter in its entirety, so take that as you will.

I think the writing style was so different and unique that it was intriguing. It was written in 3rd person present tense from multiple POVs, and was really quite beautiful and descriptive. That probably will work for many people and not at all for some others, so do with that what you will. Also, the entire story takes place over the course of one night. I was expecting....well, a lot more than that, and I think where I got lost was that it was hard to do truly believable character development when split between more than five characters over a span of roughly 12 hours, give or take. 

The concept was so interesting to me and I don't doubt many will enjoy this immensely, but it didn't really work for me and I ended up giving it 3 stars.
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My Thoughts

I would like to thank Titan Books and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This book is terrific! It really lived up to its pitch as a fast-paced, dark fantasy novel. City of Iron and Dust is a post-war-apocalyptic tale that reflects our current society. Packed with dark humor, gritty action scenes, socio-political maneuvering, and enthralling characters, it tells a story of hope in a bleak, dispiriting world.

Plotwise, it was refreshing and engaging. It was my first time reading a fantasy novel wherein Goblins triumphed over Faes. The prologue gave us a short yet detailed background leading to the current setting. Now, the Iron city was governed by five great Goblin Houses. To fully control the faes, they built iron and steel walls to stop the Faes from escaping and also from using their magic. Just like a domino, one event set off to a chain of other events that lead to chaos and destruction throughout the Iron City. Some of them where intentional while others were deeply coincidence. The intensity of the story just kept on building up until it reached mind-boggling twists and turns. Moreover, there was a lot of class and political intrigue in this novel which I really love. The multiple POV narrative was a great choice for this novel because readers could see and witness the characters' motivations and adversities, as well as it gave us a clearer picture of what was happening in the different parts of the city.

City of Iron and Dust tackled a lot of important and sensitive topics such as classism, racism, and drug use. On the other hand, the characters were very intriguing. They each had their own interest and concerns, but as the story unfolded some of them changed while others remained the same. The setting was also a mixed of real things and fantasy elements. I guessed it leaned towards urban fantasy, and it worked really well.

Overall, City of Iron and Dust by J. P. Oakes is such an entertaining novel. I really liked how this whole novel happened only in one night. I highly recommend this one.

4.5 stars!

cw: blood, gore, death, drugs
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There is something about approaching a debut novel by an author that is very awe-inspiring to me. It may sound incredibly hokey, but I feel like it is akin to unwrapping a writer for the very first time, and seeing what their wonder and peculiarities are, and, by the time I make it partially through the book, see how this fledgling will fare.

To follow further into this horrible metaphor, when I approached Mr. Oakes’ “nest” of City of Iron and Dust, he shot out of the nest, circled me a few times and then promptly took a few dive-bombs at me in the first handful of pages.

Our intrepid journey begins with a prologue explaining how the world was all magic, happiness, and light amongst the fae folk until the goblins came streaming down from the North headed up by the terrible Mab. Using her horrible magic, Mab destroyed the fae forest cities, and, in their place, the goblins created great cities of iron, steel, and glass: subjugating the fae until they withered under the oppression.

For the years after, the goblins ruled, and the fae became the downtrodden grist for the mill. Five great Goblin Houses arose, and with each, a tower. The current-day portion of the story, however, kicks off with a mysterious penthouse/charnel house and an even more mysterious package of white powder.

From the prologue we begin to see how this story is going to unfold. Like all good adventures, this story kicks off in a bar. A working-class fae dive, to be exact. Three goblins enter the picture. These goblins should not be in this bar, let alone the entire neighborhood, but the ringleader, Jag, heir to House Red Cap, is trying to make a point to her half-goblin/half-sister, Sil, who also happens to be Jag’s bodyguard. Also accompanying is Bazzack, but he is hardly important.

Also in this bar are two other very important characters to this story, Knull and Edwyll, though neither knows the other is there (this becomes important later).

This all sets the scene, and when that scene blows up (and it blows up spectacularly), this wave of destruction fans out throughout the Iron City and fae society. Some of it is related, some of it pure coincidence. Either way, the story gets very spicy very quickly. Let’s just say that fae insurrection, a whole lot of magical drug, and even more Goblin House posturing and politicking makes for an incredibly interesting read.

What I love most about City of Iron and Dust is all of the big things it hits on that are so familiar in my years of consuming popular culture, literature and film. The entire setup — as well as most of the story — just reeks of a massive Shadowrun campaign (someone should seriously write one). I was also often reminded of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, certain aspects of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, a dash of Manchurian Candidate, and you just can’t avoid the giant Akira’s Tetsuo moment near the end.

What held me in the story was the structure of how it was written, and the visceral meat of the political and class intrigue. The reader really does get to see all facets of this highly oppressive society, and where there is a lot of unexplained “mixing” and counter-ideologies that seem to sprout from no logical place. There is compassion where the nature of that character would not dictate it, and there is cruelty that seems to sprout from all the wrong reasons.

One thing I really loved about this novel, which, oddly, has annoyed me with others, is Mr. Oakes’ style of heading up each section with the name of the character from whom the point of view is presented. In many scenes, this allowed me to consider the change in perspective when several of the characters might be experiencing the same scene, and maybe even be in the same room.

The other thing I rather enjoyed is the pacing. City of Iron and Dust is very fast-paced, but it does not feel rushed. Mr. Oakes takes the time to fully develop each interaction, and, as such, the reader is able to develop a very well-defined view of what might be going on in the many scenes of total chaos. The incredibly puzzle-piece fit of the dialogue also helps immensely with this.

Don’t even get me started on the conflict choreography and styling. It’s an utter masterpiece.

City of Iron and Dust has so many themes that would appeal to a hugely wide variety of potential readers. If you like high magic/fantasy, that box is checked. If you like political intrigue, that box is also checked. If you like crime, drug, or class war stories, all of those boxes are checked. Finally, if you like stories of perseverance and truly believing in what you fight for (good or bad), that box has a big ol’ check.

Kudos to Mr. Oakes for putting this one out there. I really hope this is a world that we get to revisit in the future. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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I don't know if there's a genre called "fantasy noir" but this is the definition that comes to my mind.
We are used to book that features Fae as powerful and dangerous being. This book is different as the Fae were defeated by the Goblins and live in a world where they have no power in both magical and social way.
There's plenty going on and the story is told by different POVs of different social status. They can be poor fae or powerful goblins. Each of them wants to change something or a better life.
The world building is very original and well developed, it's a bleak world that somehow reminds of our own world.
The characters are well developed and my favorite are Sil and Granny Spregg, an outcast and an aged goblin with a sharp sense of humour.
This is a gritty, fast paced and enthralling novel, I hope there will be more in this world as I loved this one.
The author is a talented storyteller and the choral plot is never confusing and keeps you turning pages.
An excellent debut that I strongly recommend.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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"It's all a lie. It wants us to believe it's a city of iron, but it's a city of dust. It's lies and illusion, and paper-thin magic."

Knull - a drug dealer trying to buy his way out of the fae districts
Jag - a goblin noblewoman with a naive view of the lower classes her father oppresses
Sil - Jag's half-sister and bodyguard, turned into a machine by her father
Edwynn - a hopeful artist who insists on a brighter future for the fae of the Iron City
Skart - a veteran of the war organizing the fae for a new revolution
Bee - a young revolutionary driven by hope for the future
Granny Spregg - a deposed ruler of one of the goblin houses trying to wrest back her power

Somehow Oakes was able to create a diverse band of characters that made me laugh, cry, and wonder at the necessity and futility of revolution. I usually complain whenever authors include multiple POV's, but Oakes does a fantastic job using a wide variety of characters to show readers the different aspects of revolution and status quo, oppressor and oppressed. There is no definite good versus evil, but rather we are thrown into a complex web of schemes and war that reveal just how difficult and morally gray taking down an oppressive rule can be. There are naive, hopeful, and excited characters alongside corrupt, disillusioned, and desperate ones. Some stress the importance of unity in the fight to undermine the upper class, while throughout the novel we see the inevitable fracturing of the fragile common goal. Yet somehow, among all this, Oakes was able to maintain an air of hope for the future. This was an incredible fast read (I could not put it down once I started) which presented a multi-faceted view of class struggle and racial oppression in a fantasy setting.
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City of Iron and Dust is a contemporary but dark, gritty and razor-sharp Fae-inspired fantasy debut from JP Oakes. Set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, the age-old war between the Fae, those who are descended from fairies, and their goblin oppressors has finally come to an end and now the sprawling Iron City stands as a memorial and constant reminder of goblin victory and Fae defeat. Having lost, the Fae are essentially imprisoned within the walled city under the rule of five distinct goblin houses who have subjugated the Fae and bear down from the ivory towers that stand in the centre of the city. The entrapment of the Fae within the city heights was a deliberate move and the goblins had constructed the city atop of their forests so that the Fae are separated from nature and the earth they harness their magic and power from, but they are also surrounded by a substance that is toxic to them. It's almost like a gulag/prison camp as the Fae are forced to toil away carrying out heavy manual labour in noisy, dangerous and backbreaking industrial settings; it very much feels as though they have been enslaved. Not only that, but many work down the mines which lowers their life expectancy, can often precipitate cancer and can lead to addiction to the illegal drug known as "Dust".

Dust is a substance that allows the Fae a fleeting glimpse of what their lives used to be and has the power to restore lost magic, if only for a moment. There have been uprisings and rebellions before across the Iron City, but they have been largely stamped out before they could gather momentum, however, tonight is the night when the Fae will fight for freedom and to liberate themselves from their rulers' grip. Among those desperate to get their hands on Dust are a variety of quirky characters from around the vast city and they might just find that their actions will change the Iron City forever. This is a compelling fantasy novel with action galore and a plot that moves at a rapid pace. It's a refreshing take on the post-apocalyptic story, ripe with betrayal, sacrifice, clever twists and excellent worldbuilding. It's a tale with simmering tension and underlying unease from the very start, and there are surprising sections of witty humour throughout and periods of reflection traverse the whole narrative. The fight scenes are executed well and provide more than enough blood to keep you wondering exactly what will happen next. A fascinating and engaging cast of thoroughly distinctive characters is the icing on the cake for what turned out to be a gripping and engrossing standalone fantasy.
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Happy Pub day to City of Iron and Dust!

This was an intriguing read for several reason!
1. It’s Fae set in the modern world.
2. It’s a world where Fae do not triumph over everyone else; but goblin does.
3. Incredibly interesting to imaging goblins and Fae living like a normal human in the world that is similar like the one we live in!
4. Incredible badassery from some of the women characters (que Granny Spregg fighting the dude sent to assassinate her!)

I thought that the book had a brilliant start. The first few pages blew me away. As the book carries on, we were taken into the world of a myriad of characters. Initially, the sheer number of characters can be confusing but after a while, you tend to see each angle of each different characters in a different way and when you finally reach the climax where all characters come together, it simply is quite a thing.

There are also sensitive topics at play in this book: namely the consumption of Dust (that sounded similar to the effects of drugs) as well as hatred amongst races.
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“Sometimes, though, she knows, you don’t win a fight because you’re stronger, or faster, or because you’re more skilled. Sometimes you just win because you’re willing to do things that your opponent isn’t. Sometimes you win because your will to live is stronger.”
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I would give this a 3.8/5.

Thanks to @netgalley, @titanbooks and @jp_oakes for the advanced copy of the e-book. All thoughts and musings, as always, are my own.
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