3.5 stars The Iron Thorn begins with 15 (almost 16) year old Aoife (I have no idea how to say this name…don’t judge me) visiting her mother. Nerissa (mom) happens to live in a madhouse because as Aoife has repeatedly been told, she carries a necrovirus that will make her crazy when she turns 16. It happened to her mother and it also happened to her brother so she, as well as just about anyone else, believes it will happen. Aoife is currently a ward of the state and goes to The Academy at The School of Engines because machines and math have always made sense to her. Her best friend Cal also happened to be friends with Conrad, Aoife’s older brother. When Conrad “lost it” and ran away, Cal stepped in and has been the person that Aoife has depended on and become close to. Because of this, when Aoife receives a secret note from Conrad asking her to help him, she asks Cal to go with her to her father’s place in Arkham. A lot happens in this book. This is a steampunk novel and Kittredge does a great job building the world they live in. From describing the surroundings to explaining the different types of beings/things that exist in this world, I was transported right along with Aoife into what was going on. Along with the machinery and ghouls, there are “kindly folk” or fairies. While looking for a guide to take them to Arkham, Aoife and Cal meet Dean Harrison. Dean happens to be the one who will guide them out of The Iron City and into Arkham but he is also a smoking and drinking “bad boy”. While he definitely has secrets (at first) he also happens to be the one that Aoife connects with and eventually trusts with her secrets. Where Cal is sometimes very stuck on her reputation as a lady and steering her away from digging into her family background (we find out later why...) Dean pushes Aoife to examine everything and do what she wants to in order to make herself happy. Not everything (and everyone) is as it (they) seems in this book. While at Grayson Mansion, Aoife’s father’s home, Aoife learns more about her father than she ever knew and learns a bit about what happened to Conrad. It is also while she is here that she begins to believe more and more in magic and witchcraft. While at the mansion, Aoife gets pulled into the Thorn Land and runs into Tremaine who happens to be the Regent for the Winter Lands. He also happens to be somewhat of a jerk (that is me being nice). Turns out he wants Aoife to break the curse that is keeping the Queens of Summer and Winter asleep which is also destroying their lands. Aoife decides to do this only because Tremaine threatens to go after her mother, Dean, and Cal. Did I mention there is a lot going on????SO – Once Aoife comes up with a plan, she, Dean and Cal head back to the city to follow through with it. This is where a ton of secrets come out. Don’t worry – I’m not going to mention a single one. Just know that they are pretty big and have an impact on the rest of the story as well as (I assume) the rest of the series. Overall I found this book to be a good one. It kept me turning the pages and I was interested in the characters. I am definitely going to pick up the next book in the series as this one ended with a few twists. If you like the steampunk genre you will probably like this one. There is a good mix of the magic, machinery, and solid characters.