New Treasures: City of Iron and Dust by J.P. Oakes

New Treasures: City of Iron and Dust by J.P. Oakes

City of Iron and Dust (Titan Books, July 2021). Cover by Shutterstock/Julia Lloyd

I don’t know much about J.P. Oakes. He lives on Long Island, City of Iron and Dust was his first (and so far only) novel, and he keeps a low profile.

But I know that the moment I read the back of City of Iron and Dust I wanted to buy it. It’s the tale of a goblin princess, the aftermath of a terrible war, an old soldier plotting a revolution, and The Iron City, a “singular dark fantasy creation that breathes with menace and decay.” (Paul Jessup, author of The Silence That Binds.)

Paul Di Filippo calls it “a grim’n’gritty yet often blackly humorous political-coup-cum-caper novel… [a] lusty, brutal, philosophical excursion.” Here’s an excerpt from his entertaining review at Locus Online.

The book is a grim’n’gritty yet often blackly humorous political-coup-cum-caper novel… We are in your typical subcreation world, populated with the standard mythological beings of yore. Kobolds and pixies, dryads and gnomes, along with many other species and hybrid offspring between clans….

In the not-too-distant past (just decades before the opening of the novel; elderly survivors of that era still flourish), the Goblins and the Fae fought the Iron War. The Fae lost, and the Goblins erected a giant Iron City to contain the losers…

What we are about to witness is the night that the status quo erupts in violence… The engine of this derangement is a very large package of Dust. This drug allows a user to experience visions and enhanced physical powers, and in sufficient quantities to perform vast magics. Several factions want the Dust… One viewpoint figure is Knull, a lowlife Fae drug dealer. He comes into possession of the contraband almost accidentally, and keeps it through thick and thin… But it’s touch-and-go for Knull through a dozen deadly crisis points…

We witness the incredible machinations and quests for survival and dominance that arise from all the nicely sketched oppositional motivations of this bunch. As you might guess from chapter titles such as “Enter the MacGuffin”; “When the Bodies Hit the Floor”; and “That’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into”, Oakes’s style is jaunty and in-your-face, laden with pop-culture allusions and mannerisms, cursing, and fairly witty banter.

City of Iron and Dust was published by Titan Books on July 6, 2021. It is 399 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback, $9.99 digital, and $18.37 in audio formats. The cover is by Shutterstock/Julia Lloyd.

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