Fairies, and shadelings, and water wives, OH MY!!! Ironspark by C.M. McGuire is the snarky urban fantasy I had no idea I needed.
As far as openings go, this quote really sets up expectations remarkably well. We know magic exists. And we know that whatever we think we know about magical creatures is, well, sixty percent bullshit.
Total transparency here. This novel is not for the queasy or faint of heart. It gets gory and has a fair amount of violence. They aren’t over the top and nothing felt overly graphic, but it’s important to note that this does fall towards the older spectrum of YA.
Okay. With that little piece of housekeeping tidied up, we can move on to the good stuff.
Bryn is a complicated seventeen year old girl. She lost her mom to the fae, who then cursed her dad. The entire reason they live in the small town of Easterton, Pennsylvania is because the Seelie court isn’t there. But that doesn’t mean it’s fairy-free.
Most teens harbor rebellious tendencies. And in Bryn’s case, she’s apprenticed herself to a fairy fighting priest, determined to learn everything she can about how to kill fairies. Her father doesn’t know and her younger twin brothers definitely do not know. She’s a girl with secrets and keeps everyone at arm’s length. No matter what.
Well… almost everyone. She does have an ex-girlfriend. But she’s a fairy, of a sort. Her water witch tribe heals and generally works to help keep Bryn safe. And she has a tiny little army of shadelings living with her. Tiny shadow creatures that love being helpful in exchange for jam and snacks. I mean, it sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I’m not going to lie, these shadelings stole my heart from the beginning. I love them and will die for them and would also like my own little shadeling army, please and thank you.
But for as much as Bryn wants to be the lone wolf, and as much as she wants to protect the people she loves by keeping them in the dark, things are about to get a little out of control. And by a little, I mean A LOT!
The Seelie court has infiltrated Bryn’s small town and her mom is showing up in her dreams. She’s so on edge that when a new guy is talking to Jasika––the only person Bryn can call a friend––she’s positive he’s fae. Turns out, he’s not. But when he sees a shadeling appear to warn Bryn of fae trouble, he’s difficult to shake.
With Dom refusing to stay away, Jasika stops taking no for an answer, and Bryn finds herself in a misfit fairy fighting crew.
Which is good, because the Seelie court is closing in.
The mystery dynamics are steeped with delicious tension. Between dreams that aren’t dreams, magic with unclear consequences, and a looming countdown for when the Seelie will arrive, I was turning pages late into the night.
The characters and character dynamics are all very real. Sure, there’s shadelings and witches and fae, but the humans are wonderfully vivid. And yes, there is a bit of a love triangle, but there also isn’t. I mean, it’s complicated. And here is where the rep in this book is outstanding. A bi protagonist, an ace cinnamon roll boy, a lesbian witch. There’s the reality of mental illness, panic attacks, and grief. Magic and supernatural creatures aside, this book captures the layered and nuanced depth of life.
Part of the other reality is how Bryn deals with the hand life has dealt her. She makes plenty of bad choices, often made with good intentions but also simply because she’s just plain stubborn. And as frustrating as that is for the reader, it also struck me as very true to life. I mean, I was a teenage girl once and boy I’m sure my parent’s have some STORIES about stubborn bad choices.
She wants vengeance and answers, but she also is doing the best she can. It doesn’t shield her from consequences and I adore how Dom and Jasika call her out on some of her more very bad choices. But it’s also heartbreakingly tragic how she doesn’t see things until it’s too late. She’s the target of the fae but doesn’t have any sort of Chosen One vibes. It’s her and her wits and if she’s lucky, a hunk of iron. And I really loved that part of what made her strong was the people (and fairies) that surround her.
Huge thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and Swoon Reads for including me on this tour and sending me this awesome copy!
Ironspark is out now! Be sure to check out the rest of the TOUR STOPS for aesthetics, playlists, interviews, reviews, and more!
A teen outcast must work together with new friends to keep her family and town safe from murderous Fae while also dealing with panic attacks, family issues, and a lesbian love triangle in C.M. McGuires’s kick-butt paranormal YA debut, Ironspark.
For the past nine years, ever since a bunch of those evil Tinkerbells abducted her mother, cursed her father, and forced her family into hiding, Bryn has devoted herself to learning everything she can about killing the Fae. Now it’s time to put those lessons to use.
Then the Court Fae finally show up, and Bryn realizes she can’t handle this on her own. Thankfully, three friends offer to help: Gwen, a kindhearted water witch; Dom, a new foster kid pulled into her world; and Jasika, a schoolmate with her own grudge against the Fae.
But trust is hard-won, and what little Bryn has gained is put to the test when she uncovers a book of Fae magic that belonged to her mother. With the Fae threat mounting every day, Bryn must choose between faith in her friends and power from a magic that could threaten her very humanity.
When C.M. McGuire, author of Ironspark, was a child, she drove her family crazy with her nonstop stories. Lucky for them, she eventually learned to write and gave their ears a rest. This love of stories led her to college where she pursued history (semi-nonfictional storytelling), anthropology (where stories come from) and theater (attention-seeking storytelling). When she isn’t writing, she’s painting, crocheting, gardening, baking, and teaching the next generation to love stories as much as she does.