|Title: The Nightmare Garden
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Series: Iron Codex #2
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA
Reviewed by: Julia
Everything Aoife thought she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn’t going to succumb to madness because of a latent strain—she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn’t human. She is a changeling—half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.
When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she’s ravaged on the world that’s about to poison her.
THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN is an absolutely gorgeous book with captivating mythology and elegant phrasing. I found myself pausing as I read to roll phrases over my tongue and read them aloud to savor. Kittredge’s world is a dark delight that blends shades of otherworldly magic with the mechanical enthusiasm of steampunk to create something I’ve never encountered before.
Despite this being my first book in the series (and having no prior knowledge of Lovecraft), Kittredge provided a solid sense of place that easily drew me into the story. I feel like there was a level of the narrative where Kittredge played with Lovecraft mythology that flew right over my head, but that lack by no means detracted from my own enjoyment of the book itself. Aoife’s mechanical knack, like all other gifts in this dark world, has both it’s benefits and it’s price, and I liked how Kittredge complimented Aoife’s training with her use of magic. I greatly enjoyed Aoife’s “engineering mindset”, and her capacity for problem solving helped charm me through the times when she made some dangerous decisions (I know, I know, there’s no adventure if the hobbits don’t leave the shire, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful). Though I missed out when Kittredge’s played with Lovecraft tropes, I greatly enjoyed her take on some familiar urban fantasy devices. The emotional ending of THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN was less of a cliff hanger than a road map for book three in Kittredge’s capable hands, and her deft handling of this trope has me all the more excited about what the series will bring.
Anyone familiar with Kittredge’s work will find it no surprise that THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN was deeply engaging and the Iron Codex series is an immediate addiction. Though danger and romance abounds, Kittredge has made the transition to YA appropriateness without a hitch. THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN gave me enough substance that I don’t feel the need to backtrack to THE IRON THORN to fill in the blanks, but I may do so anyway just to tide me over until I can continue Aoife’s journey forward.