Authors: Caitlin Kittredge
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2011 by Caitlin Kittredge
Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Robert Lazzaretti
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Iron Thorn / Caitlin Kittredge. — 1st ed.
Summary: In an alternate 1950s, mechanically gifted fifteen-year-old
Aoife Grayson, whose family has a history of going mad at sixteen,
must leave the totalitarian city of Lovecraft and venture into the world
of magic to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance and the
mysteries surrounding her father and the Land of Thorn.
eISBN: 978-0-375-89598-2 [1. Fantasy.] I. Title.
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
To Howard Phillips Lovecraft
who first showed me that strange far place
The moon is dark
and the gods dance in the night;
there is terror in the sky
for upon the moon hath sunk an eclipse
foretold in no books of men
—H. P. L
HERE ARE SEVENTEEN
madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I’ve visited all of them.
My mother likes to tell me about her dreams when I visit. She sits in the window of the Cristobel Charitable Asylum and strokes the iron bars covering the glass like they are the strings of a harp. “I went to the lily field last night,” she murmurs.
Her dreams are never dreams. They are always journeys, explorations, excavations of her mad mind, or, if her mood is bleak, ominous portents for me to heed.
The smooth brass gears of my chronometer churned past four-thirty and I put it back in my skirt pocket. Soon the asylum would close to visitors and I could go home. The dark came early in October. It’s not safe for a girl to be out walking on her own, in Hallows’ Eve weather.
I called it that, the sort of days when the sky was the same color as the smoke from the Nephilim Foundry across
the river, and you could taste winter on the back of your tongue.
When I didn’t immediately reply, my mother picked up her hand mirror and threw it at my head. There was no glass in it—hadn’t been for years, at least six madhouses ago. The doctors wrote it into her file, neat and spidery, after she tried to cut her wrists open with the pieces.
No mirrors. No glass. Patient is a danger to herself
“I’m talking to you!” she shouted. “You might not think it’s important, but I went to the lily field! I saw the dead girls move their hands! Open eyes looking up! Up into the world that they so desperately desire!”
It’s a real shame that my mother is mad. She could make a fortune writing sensational novels, those gothics with the cheap covers and breakable spines that Mrs. Fortune, my house marm at the Lovecraft Academy, eats up.