Wednesday, September 7, 2011

REVIEW: "The Iron King" by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

PUBLICATION DATE: February 1, 2010
READ: September 2011
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy-Fae
SETTING: USA, Nevernever
SERIES: Iron Fey #1

OVERALL RANKING: 5 Stars out of 5

Recently, I have read many books that deal with the Seelie/Unseelie world from Karen Marie Moning's Fever series to Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles.  While this seems to be a popular topic nowadays in fantasy fiction, I am always excited to read new approaches to a "cliche" idea.  Julie Kagawa definitely does this in the first book in her new YA fantasy series.

The Iron King starts out like many other YA fantasy novels.  We meet our protagonist (Meghan Chase) who is about to reach the milestone birthday of sixteen.  She mentions a mysterious event in her past where her father disappeared without a trace during a visit to a pond.  Then we learn that, after the incident, Meghan's mother moved to a small town in Louisiana and attempted to establish a new life.  But, Meghan continues to feel like she doesn't belong anywhere for unknown reasons. 

At first, Meghan seems like your typical YA heroine with pale hair and a nonexistent social life.  She has a single friend (Robbie) who loves to play pranks yet remains a mystery to her.  But, once the action gets going in Meghan's life, she definitely takes a step up from the Bella Swans of the literary world.  Meghan's biggest strength (and possibly weakness) is her loyalty to those she loves.  When her younger brother is kidnapped and replaced by a changeling, Meghan is pulled into the world of the Fae.

I won't go much deeper into the plot of The Iron King in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say that Meghan's journey takes her throughout the Fae world (Nevernever) and the human world.  There is no staying in place for too long in this book.  Meghan and the companions she picks up on the way seem to be in constant motion.  I think this keeps the plot from getting too stagnant.

I was impressed with Kagawa's descriptions of the various settings that Meghan found herself in.  The Fae courts are described in contrasting details to emphasize their historic opposition.  I was especially fascinated with the Iron Court and its metallic accents.  Kagawa does not keep the interesting description set aside for Nevernever.  Meghan travels to quite a few cities in the mortal world and the way places like Detroit and New Orleans are portrayed provides a valuable tool into the mood of the plot.     

Meghan, as I mentioned earlier, meets quite an array of characters on her journey to save her brother, Ethan.  Some of my personal favorites were Robin Goodfellow (aka Shakespeare's infamous Puck), Grimalkin (a Cheshire Cat-type tour guide), and Ash (prince of the Unseelie Court).  Puck is just as mischievous as he is in A Midsummer Night's DreamHe definitely kept the tone of the book from getting too dark and twisted with his sarcasm and pranks.  Grimalkin was pretty mysterious throughout the book, but was a huge help in keeping Meghan on track with her journey.  His sense of irony was prevalent and kept me highly entertaining.  Ash was an interesting mix of sarcasm and cold irony.  He begins helping Meghan in order to force her to accompany him back to the Unseelie Court when she's completed her mission, but his feelings definitely seem to change along the way.

There is a touch of romance in The Iron King, but no definite conclusion to the relationship.  Like other YA series, there is evidence of a love triangle though one side is definitely more prevalent in this book than the other.  I believe the reader will see more developments in the romance later in the series. 

Like any good debut to a series, The Iron King left many questions unanswered.  The direct conflict is resolved, but there are many smaller situations that Meghan still must deal with.  The Iron King provides readers with an introduction to a new twist on the Seelie/Unseelie mythology and the role that Meghan plays in the future of both the Fae and mortal world.  Highly Recommended!!


"Touch her, and I'll freeze your testicles off and put them in a jar. Understand?" --Ash

"Ladies and Felines," he stated grandly, grasping the doorknob, "Welcome to Tir Na Nog. Land of endless winter and shitloads of snow." --Puck

"I've always wanted the IQ of a rock. No, wait. That would be an insult to the rock."--Puck

"Time to switch to decaf, princess. If you're going to shriek at every bogey that jumps out and says 'boo', you'll be exhausted before we reach the edge of the woods."--Puck


Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance (Winner)


The Iron King's Amazon Page
The Iron King's Goodreads Page
Iron Fey's Series Website
Julie Kagawa's Author Website
The Unread Reader's Review
Book Passion for Life's Review
Smexy Book's Review

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