“How far would you go to escape fate?
In this prequel to the international bestselling WICKED LOVELY series (over a million copies sold), the Faery Courts collide a century before the mortals in Wicked Lovely are born.
Thelma Foy, a jeweler with the Second Sight in iron-bedecked 1890s New Orleans, wasn’t expecting to be caught in a faery conflict. Tam can see through the glamours faeries wear to hide themselves from mortals, but if her secret were revealed, the fey would steal her eyes, her life, or her freedom. So, Tam doesn’t respond when they trail thorn-crusted fingertips through her hair at the French Market or when the Dark King sings along with her in the bayou.
But when the Dark King, Irial, rescues her, Tam must confront everything she thought she knew about faeries, men, and love.
Too soon, New Orleans is filling with faeries who are looking for her, and Irial is the only one who can keep her safe.
Unbeknownst to Tam, she is the prize in a centuries-old fight between Summer Court and Winter Court. To protect her, Irial must risk a war he can’t win–or surrender the first mortal woman he’s loved.
“Dragons. I’ll add Dragons.”
The author of the Wicked Lovely series now has an audience full of adult readers and I am one of those readers. There’s not an author that can touch me like Melissa Marr. As much I’ll love and 5-star other favorites there’s just a certain place that holds for an author that held my hand when I was going through the toughest time in my life.
I grew up with a lot of trauma and I cannot ever remember not having panic attacks or not being afraid of being in my own home. The Wicked Lovely books brought such magic and happiness to me. I could see light within those shadows. She showed me a world that took me away from the terror of my own mind and into one where the dark and light does not have to end with pain. I go into her books and I am instantly happy. She goes beyond nostalgia for me. It’s more like I can enter a world into faerie where my trauma does not exist. I am ever grateful.
This book is not her Wicked Lovely series. It is for her adult fans that have since found new worlds. This is a remembrance book. Something of the old favorite characters. Of course the Dark Court takes the reins and we’re remembering their past. Marr takes us to Irial’s past, to his first love: Thelma. Thelma Foy. The name becomes familiar as the story unfolds.
Thelma is a jeweler, an artist, and a poor woman living in New Orleans in the year of 1890. Trying to sell one of her pieces at a jewelry store, Thelma pretends not to see the faerie in the shop. That very faerie: a rich, powerful faerie of the Dark court gifts her with a dream. He offers money to pursue her dreams as an artist through the means of the spiteful man that refused her very dreams because she is a woman. His shop is at the tip of her fingers.
A beautiful face or a devil behind those shadows? She is hesitant and knows to fear the fey. Thelma is sighted, a mortal that sees the Fey whether or not they have glamours. She pretends she cannot see him when not glamoured.
Irial is enamored by Thelma, as many faeries are of the sighted and artistic mortals. He is drawn to her as she is drawn to him. Irial likes to court Thelma and Thelma is hesitant at first but doesn’t mind his swaggery ways. That is honestly refreshing as well.
I’m sort of tired of heroines that tell themselves ‘oh no I shouldn’t. Romance is for stupid girls.’ Thelma is very okay with romance. It’s just the consequences that come with it that she’s not such a fan of.
I like that we have that emotional development and conversation on sexual autonomy and the reality of sexual relationships during this time period. I am living for the slowly unwrapped sexy alpha Victorian lady Marr has going here. That is the feminism I want. I don’t want the ‘i shouldn’t because it’s not smart’ when really that is just the internal misogynistic definition of ‘good girls don’t have sexy times because it’s indecent’. That is a trash can. That is not a feminist look. That is a dumpster fire. Yes this is a critique of other reviewers mislabeling this as Young Adult when it is an adult novel. It is an important aspect, and a feminist one, that Marr explore’s Tam sexual autonomy and Iri’s sexuality. Marr has the sexy feminism in her pen.
This is about Thelma’s slow descent into courtship with our Bisexual King of the Dark Court. This is their story, their courtship, and the threads of how far into time their story effects the future.
Irial’s characterization is one to be fascinated by. He’s all shadows and cruelty and at the same time gentlemanly; an admirer of the beautiful things in life. The plucking of a flower and twirling it between his fingers. Kissing Niall’s wrist when he tries to punch him. A true gentleman, our Iri.
He’s charismatic and loves to flirt. He teases and pokes fun. I love all of his character’s flaws and attributes.
The Dark King does not love easily. He loves fast. He loves like he’s consumed entirely, like an epic romance of legends and myths. He is exactly like those faerie kings in Irish folklore I used to read a kid. Taking away beautiful artists and taking them away from the expectations that they be proper wives and mothers and instead courting them away to a kingdom. Except not at all Disney and scary as fuck.
“He wanted the romance, the dizzy fall into madness that they’d been hurtling toward already”
That’s his idea of love, of romance, of courtship. He wants to be destroyed by his love for Thelma and for her to be destroyed by love for him. Like a…..dare I say it? Fairy tale. The scary kind.
Truly there are many excellent villains in these pages. One of my favorites from the Wicked Lovely series is Bananach.
“I want the dogs of war. I want the Darkness to rage. Bring me blood.”
She is truly a greatly written villain, always seeking out the chaos of war. I hate her for the pain she causes characters I love and yet I love her for her rage and beautiful characterization.
Marr has exceeded my expectations. Her wordsmithing has improved. Which I am truly baffled at.
“She outlined her lips with her bloodied finger and pulled a glamour over herself to make the blood look like lip rouge and her tattered dress seem like the finest silk.”
The descriptions of shadows and ice, faeries stealing and murdering humans, the terrible and the dangerous beauty of the urban and the old. Ice queens with red lips creating a throne of ice carved of screaming faces. I am in love with everything here.
The pacing is gentle and yet moves so smoothly. Everything is atmospheric, eerie, dangerous, seductive and tragic. The prose is a language and world into this strange urban and faerie world. The prose sounds like Thelma is actually from this time period. She does not sound like a 21st century woman but instead with the dialect of an Irish woman living in 1890 New Orleans. Additionally, Marr does not let it slide the historical reality of this time period: one of extreme white supremacy that is obviously still present to this very day.
One thing I think readers should be prepared for in reading this is that this is a prequel to the Wicked Lovely series. Keeping that in mind, I would advise that what happens in the novel is not always happy. This isn’t a Disney fairy tale or even a romance novel. This is a romantic story that is a beginning. It is just that. A beginning to the tragedy that leads to the Wicked Lovely series.. It is the weaving of something that will happen in the future.
The very sound of Thelma’s narrative creates gives a rawness that I have not seen in other books with historical settings.
Cold Iron Heart is a beautiful example of gorgeous prose holding that balance between lush and detailed yet stays far away from purple prose. It encapsulates the energy of Marr’s faerie world. The dark faeries that trick and torture men in brothels. The hounds of the Hunt that provide a carriage for their Dark King. The house that holds a dangerous faerie court. Ancient beings wearing top hats and heels. It’s that perfect details that separates Marr from the rest of authors that weave fantastical beings into the modern.
This does not feel like anything being published right now. I will gladly be destroyed by more of Melissa Marr’s books. I want to fall into the madness of her words and worlds.