Review: Lady of Steel and Straw by Erica Ivy Rodgers

Lady of Steel and Straw by Erica Joy Rodgers

Lady of Steel and Straw
Erica Ivy Rodgers
Peachtree Teen
Published June 4, 2024

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About Lady of Steel and Straw

Star-crossed lovers grapple with forbidden attraction and a growing army of ghostly dead in this swashbuckling YA fantasy debut.

After ten years of exile, following regicide in the House of Tristain, an alarming royal edict is delivered to the immortal scarecrow Guardians who once defended the crown: surrender themselves to the church of the Silent Gods, or stand accused of further treason. But with a puppet prince set to take the throne and vengeful wraiths appearing with alarming frequency, something foul and sinister is at work in the kingdom of Niveaux.

Lady Charlotte Sand was born to calm the restless dead. A headstrong heroine, she refuses to relinquish her family’s lavender Guardian to the Cardinal’s Watch—a rash misstep that costs her brother his life and sets her on a path for revenge.

For pious and handsome Captain Luc de Montaigne, it’s an excruciating predicament. His long-lost, childhood love has triggered a faction war that could tear the realm asunder. Now Charlotte and Luc must choose between killing one another and stepping closer to victory—or yielding to the electricity between them.

Heartily inspired by The Three Musketeers, this multiple-perspective narrative features a unique system of bone and herbal magic, sultry banter, and a feisty cast of well-rounded supporting characters. This rousing first entry in a romantic fantasy duology is a gorgeous read and excellent pick for fans of Rin Chupeco and Margaret Rogerson.

Lady of Steel and Straw on Goodreads

My Review

This book has one of the best fantasy worlds I’ve read all year. I loved the lore about wraiths and Guardians and how the Guardians came to be. I also loved the connection to scarecrows and all the references to plants and trees throughout the characters’ expressions. Amazing.

Almost the entire story (except the prologue and final chapter) follows Charlotte and Luc’s perspectives. Charlotte has a very coming-of-age feel to her character, where she begins as a girl in an apprenticeship destined for a small life and longing for more. Luc has risen to a high rank as a soldier and serves as the cardinal’s guard captain, so in some ways, he almost reads more like an adult character, though his childhood haunts him pretty closely, which reminds us how young he is.

Though I really enjoyed the book, I struggled with the slow-burn romance between Luc and Charlotte. I get that there’s some magic or spiritual connection between them, but it was hard to dismiss the fact that Charlotte was bent on revenge against the man who killed her brother but had much warmer feelings for the guy who gives so many orders to harm her and the people she loves. I think a lot of people will be able to suspend disbelief, though, because of how compelling the other story elements are.

This ends with a strong setup for a follow-up novel, and I will absolutely be reading it. I can’t wait for a chance to revisit this incredible story world and find out what happens to these characters.

Lady of Steel and Straw on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Few (if any) race details given.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A few F-bombs and strong profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Wielders use forbidden power to disturb dead spirits, raising them as wraiths who inspire fear, pain, and torment in others. Very rarely, when someone dies, they become a Guardian, or an immortal warrior bonded to a person who will fight someone wielding the dead or settle disturbed spirits as part of the Order of old gods.

Now, under the cardinal’s rule as regent, the people worship a new duo called the Silent Gods, and the old ways are increasingly forbidden.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Swordfights to the death. Torture. Descriptions of wraiths attacking people. Description of mass murder. In one scene, soldiers escort people to the gallows, preparing to hang them. In another, a girl sees the decayed body of an executed prisoner.

Drug Content
One character has been manipulated into dependence on a drug. Another is an alcoholic.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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