cover image Heart of Iron

Heart of Iron

Ekaterina Sedia. Prime, $14.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-60701-257-3

Sedia (The Alchemy of Stone) superbly blends novel of manners, alternate history, and le Carr%C3%A9%E2%80%93style espionage with a dash of superheroes and steampunk. In a Russia in which the Decembrist revolution succeeded and Constantine never abdicated, 18-year-old Sasha is unexpectedly enrolled at university thanks to a challenge her aunt Eugenia issues to Constantine. Her initial concerns about sexism fade to the background once she realizes that Chinese students are vanishing. After a visiting British student named Jack, who has strange powers, helps Sasha prevent a kidnapping, she learns of a plot that could lead Russia into war with China, England, or both. Sedia assembles a nice list of supporting characters%E2%80%94the forceful Eugenia, the Russian soldiers and Chinese fur traders Sasha befriends, sinister spymaster Florence Nightingale%E2%80%94and Sasha's often frustrated but always practical narrative voice smoothly carries the novel to its satisfying conclusion. (Aug.)