Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

September 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

Title: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, Faeries, Young Adult, Supernatural
Buy this novel: Book Depository.

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.

The Iron King focuses on the persona of Meghan Chase, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father dissapeared years ago, and who now lives in the country with her Mom, stepfather and little brother Ethan. With her ragged clothes and her parent’s pigfarm business, Meghan is the laughing stock of the entire school. Fortunately, she has one friend who supports her through all of this: Robbie Goodfell. On her sixteenth birthday however, weird things are starting to happen. For instance, Robbie is behaving strangely, her younger brother Ethan seems possessed by some alien creature, and she sees images of a tall and handsome boy on a horse. It is only when Robbie explains to her, that Meghan realises what has truly happened. Her younger brother was kidnapped by the faeries, and they put a changeling in her home instead. And her best friend since forever, Robbie Goodfell, is in fact no one other than Robin Goodfellow aka Puck, the famous and mischevious fairy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Determined to find Ethan and return him home safely, Meghan and Puck travel to the Never Never. But like travelling to the wildfey area isn’t hard enough, they are being chased by the tall and handsome stranger, who turns out to be none other than the Winter Prince, Ash. He and Puck have an old feud going on, and unfortunately for her, Meghan is stuck in the middle of all of it.

Like that isn’t bad enough, something else is threatening the Never Never as well. Something dark, powerful and destructive. Something that took her brother. And it will take all of their combined forces to find out what, and to defeat it.

I have to admit that I’m not usually one to jump on the big-hype-bandwagon. I’m not the kind of person who likes something simply because everyone and their pet chihuahua likes it. If anything, the more hype there is about something, the more reluctant I am to join in and add my own fangirlness as well. I felt the same way with the Harry Potter books, until I read them and fell in love. I also felt the exact same way about the whole Twilight issue, until I read the novels and made my own opinion – I’m still not very fond of them, but I can see their appeal – and I had the exact same problem with The Iron Fey Series. I was curious to read the series because everyone talked about it, the covers looked gorgeous, and faeries were a new and foreign supernatural species to me. I wasn’t all that much into faeries when I was younger, and even in my teenage years I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone could write a novel aimed at a young adult audience themed around fairyworld. Apparently it can be done, and it can be done in such a fashion that I’m totally swept off my feet and impressed beyond belief.

To my utmost shame, I must admit that I’ve never read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream before. I did watch a TV movie based on it once, but that’s a far distant memory as well. Had I perhaps read faerielore before indulging into this novel, I would have realised that there’s a great difference between Tinkerbell, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and the actual fairyworld of the Never Never and The Seelie and Unseelie Courts. In all honesty, I was even more intrigued by the lore behind the story, and the use of ancient tales about the Summer and Winter Courts, Queen Titania and Queen Mab, and King Oberon, than I was with the actual storyline and characters. I felt like this whole new world had opened to me, and it was all the more real because it hadn’t entirely sprung from the imagination of the author herself, but was based on several legends regarding supernatural beings, and a centuries-old but still very famous poem by none other than the great Shakespeare himself. If that isn’t impressive, then I don’t know what it is anymore.

I loved all of the characters. But literally, all of them. I loved Meghan’s personality, strong and determined albeit a bit naive and often finding herself in need of assistance. She is, after all, only sixteen years old, and not a trained swordfighter or accomplished trickster, so naturally she often needs others to help her acheive her goals. Of course I fell in love with the Winter Prince, Ash, as well. Handsome and stunning, cold and distant yet passionate and caring. How one person can hold so many emotions, is still a big question mark for me, but I loved him for every single emotion he had. As far as Prince Charmings go, he really is an exceptional one. I liked Puck as a character as well, although I have to admit that having him transferred from this sort of mythical hero to a teenage boy in love with our heroine, was a bit much to take in at first. On the other hand, it was quite the original thought, and I thoroughly enjoyed his jokes, pranks and protectiveness over Meghan.

On the downside: I knew from the start that there was going to be a love triangle, but I felt dissapointed when it didn’t really evolve in this book. We see glimpses of Puck expressiing his love for Meghan, or showing it in extremely obvious ways, but we never get an idea of how she feels about him. Are they just friends, or is there something more? Also, I thought that the love affair between Meghan and Ash developed a bit too fasty for my liking, and I wouldn’t have shed a tear had they waiting with their mutual lovey-dovey confessions until book two in the series. It even seemed a bit out of character to me. I can perfectly understand why Meghan would take a fancy to Ash – I would have done exactly the same, without a shadow of a doubt – but I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that he is interested in her too, right from the start. I mean, he IS the Winter Prince, cold and distant by nature, and she IS the Summer Princess, half-human on top of that, and best friends with his nemesis. It doesn’t exactly make her the most desirable person in the world, now does it? I can’t imagine him giving in to his feelings for her just like that, and I was a bit dissapointed that he did.

Do you want to know who my favorite character is? Grimalkin, of course. Funny, witty, sarcastic, cynical, answering all questions with “I’m a cat” and striking deals whenever he sees an advantage, what’s not to like? I also couldn’t help but feel like behind that non-caring attitude, there was a very caring, friendly and charming…cat.

From the moment Puck and Meghan step into the Never Never, I was hooked. The first hundred pages may not have totally convinced me, but the story afterwards did. I loved the way Julie Kagawa described both kingdoms, how she potrayed Lord Oberon and Queen Titania, how she made the throne room come to life on those very pages of this book. I was amazed, enthralled, paralyzed and of course, forced to continue reading. Then, as Meghan’s adventures begin, and she’s being chased by all sorts of magical creatures as she tries to find her brother, I was thoroughly amused. It felt sort of like those classic quest storylines, but with new and original ideas woven into it.

Something that annoyed me though, was the similarity between both courts. I was given to understand that The Summer Court, albeit michevious and not-all-that-good-hearted towards humans, was the ‘good’ court, whereas The Winter Court is seen as malevolent and wicked. I didn’t get that impression while reading this novel, especially because the personalities of Queen Titania and Queen Mob are very much alike. Both are cruel, hot-headed and egocentric. I would have liked to see a clearer distinction between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ court.

In short, The Iron King is everything I couldn’t have dreamed it would be: fast-paced, original, imaginative, creative, with interesting and lovable characters, a plotline that keeps you glued to your seat, and most impressive world-building. Julie Kagawa is a true artist at crafting and creating scenery for her characters to play in, from enchanted forests to gigantic throne rooms to cozy cottages and icey fields. I can’t wait to read The Iron Daughter – literallly, I have it here with me right now, and I feel like dropping everything, including work for university, to start reading! – and find out what happens to Meghan next. If you haven’t read The Iron King yet, then it’s about time. You’re missing out on the faerie book of the century.

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Entry filed under: Book Reviews.

Book Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

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