ARC Review: Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

*I was given a copy of Rust in the Root in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to HarperCollins and Justina Ireland*


It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.

Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.

But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.

As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.


Rust in the Root was an interesting take on urban fantasy. The world-building was quite slow to start with and the style in which it was written often lead me to believe it wasn’t the first in the series. Not sure if that makes sense but it sometimes felt like you should already know the state of affairs and who these people are. 

Once I got past the first few chapters I really started enjoying Rust in the Root. Once the action kicked in and the magic system started making more sense the world of this book was very interesting. I loved the different styles of magic and how it was illegal to cast without a license or if you were proficient in more than one type. 

Around halfway through the pace picks up and when given a larger cast of characters the plot really begins to shine. The idea of the blights and that Laura is a part of the team who needs to control them was fun. Also, the fights with the blight beasts were some of the most interesting parts. 

I don’t have much to say about the characters as honestly, it felt like you didn’t meet some of them properly, with the expectation of Laura and The Skylark. They both had interesting arcs and I’m intrigued to see what will happen with them next. Their growing familial relationship is an area of most interest. 

Rust in the Root was one of those books that I enjoyed but I’m struggling to explain why. No part of it was particularly spectacular but I had fun reading it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rust in the Root is available on September 20th.

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