Book Review: Iron Night (M. L. Brennan)

Review: Iron Night by M. L. Brennan
Urban Fantasy / #2 of 4, Generation V

“Holy shit. You’re going to feed Titus to a troll?” I felt appalled.
“This is why we don’t name or pet the goats.” Chivalry said blandly.

Vampire Fortitude Scott has gained (somewhat) in self-confidence and ability since the end of Generation V. So when someone is maiming and murdering young men around the city, Fort—once again in defiance of his family—teams up with his shapeshifting fox friend Suzume Hollis in an effort to stop the slaughter. Initially expecting to uncover a run-of-the-mill serial killer, he instead finds himself dealing with paranormal forces, including an enormous conspiracy in the elven community and a blood chillingly evil predator… and he has to do it all without alerting his newly suspicious friend, Matt, to the Scott family’s vampirical secret.

I really, really enjoyed Generation V… and Iron Night was even better. We get more insight into the characters, and the plot is a bit more complex and exciting. There’s never really any doubt who is responsible for the crimes committed in Generation V, whereas as Iron Night keeps you in the dark for a bit longer. And while Luca in Generation V was a nasty piece of work, the villains of Iron Night might just be even nastier (which I can hardly even believe is possible)… so it feels like the stakes are higher. Plus, while I was mostly only attached to Fort and Suzume in the first book and was never really worried for the safety of either of them, I am attached to some of the more expendable secondary characters in Iron Night, and that left me feeling a lot more anxious for a lot more of the book.

I knew I would like Iron Night right away when it opened with Norwegian trolls. I have a strong affinity for Norwegian trolls.

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So much so that my cousin made Norwegian troll-themed cake toppers for my wedding cake.

Iron Night is humourous, dark, and compulsively readable. It has inventive takes on well-established fantasy mythologies and tropes: for example, vampires are not immortal, and they reproduce only with great difficulty. “Pure” elves, normally the most magical and high-class denizens of fantasyland, are in this universe inbred and psychotic (new half-elven character Lilah talking about her family tree is hilarious).

Iron Night is a fun, plot-driven action book, but excellently written characters and its touching treatment of themes of family and loyalty elevate it. Fort doesn’t fit into his family in the slightest, and in Iron Night he is seeing how other characters in a similar situation—Lilah and Suzume—adjust to their complicated family environments. But supernatural abilities aside, their family situations are highly relatable. Suzume struggles to balance her family responsibilities and loyalties with her new ties to Fort, and Lilah finds that as much as she detests her judgmental, racist family she can’t seem to leave them behind. Fort is afraid to defy the domineering, all-powerful Scott family, and also of losing Matt, the last tie to his adoptive parents… but his deepest and most profound fear is that he will turn out like the rest of his family. These are struggles I can see lot of readers identifying with.

And Prudence! OMG Prudence. Big sister Prudence was a vaguely menacing presence in the first book, making occasional appearances to be threatening and disapproving. In Iron Night we get to understand firsthand why Prudence is so feared among the supernatural community, but we also see more of her personality than just ‘bloodthirsty sociopath’. She became one of my favourite characters in this book, if not my favourite.  It’s obvious by the end of the novel that she cares deeply about Fort, in her strange and psychotic way.

Basically? This is a fun and suspenseful book with nasty villains, lovable heroes, and plenty of people somewhere in between. If you’ve already read and enjoyed Generation V, you’re in for a real treat… and if you haven’t, you should change that, pronto!

 If you like ___________________, you should check out Iron Night:

  • Relatable underdog heroes
  • Urban fantasy
  • Sarcasm
  • Action with a side of romance

Avoid Iron Night if you dislike:

  • Content that includes violence, gore, rape
  • Horror elements

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