Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review: Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)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 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.

On October 26th the latest installment of the Iron Fey series hits the stores and in anticipation of it I've decided to dedicate the next four Sundays to reviews of this series. Yes, that's right, I am in possession of the ARC of The Iron Knight (thanks to the publisher and NetGalley) and in order to prepare for it I got the other three volumes from the library. After all, can't read the fourth book and not read the first three. Besides, everything I've heard about the Iron Fey seemed to say that if I didn't read these books I would be really missing out. So there I was, on a sunny Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, sitting at a Starbucks, my coffee long gone, unable to close The Iron King and go home to continue reading it there because closing the book would mean that I'd have to stop reading and I really didn't want to! Julie Kagawa's fey got their sharp little teeth in me and were not letting go.
There are many things that charmed me. One is the narrative voice. It is so light and keeps the story moving so well that I knew immediately that this would be an easy and delightful read. The other is how all the magical creatures we've heard and read about in a variety of different stories come together in the Nevernever and every one of them has a place. This isn't all fun and adventure though - the faerie world is full of danger and I really liked that too, it reminded me of the stories I read as a child, they were really scary at times! Even better was the fact that that there wasn't a grand tour of "here's is a piskie, there is a goblin", it made me dive head first into the story and figure it out as I went, or rather as Meghan went. It was a bit confusing at times because everything seemed to have razor-sharp teeth and carnivorous appetites, or at the very least a malicious intent, but it all worked out in the end. I really liked how the author interpreted the technological development of our world and its influence on the faerie world. I haven't read much fey fiction lately so this seemed like a very innovative approach to me, and well-executed at that.
If you were to risk your life and shake me awake in the middle of the night to ask me who my favorite Iron King character is I would immediately say that it's Grimalkin. The cat's totally awesome and such a scene stealer! He clearly has his own agenda but at the end of the day he's on the side of the good guys and his sense of humor got laughs out of me every time. Actually the rest of the main cast are pretty funny too. Meghan is just because of her teenage attitude, Puck is the jokester no matter how close to death he is and even Ash cracked a joke or two and they weren't bad either. Spending time with these guys was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed seeing their evolution from who they were in the beginning of the book to who they became in the end.
Here's something I didn't enjoy very much: the ever-present scenario of "girl who doesn't fit in falls in love with the mysterious and dangerous guy from the enemy clan the moment she lays eyes on him; fortunately it seems the guy isn't all evil although he keeps pulling away and probably will kill her if the stars align just right but she doesn't care, she wants to be with him". What the heck? Can't people fall in love gradually any more? They're magical creatures and teenagers at that but seriously? At least I could console myself that there wasn't a love triangle in all of this, although Puck did seem to be looking at Meghan with googly eyes once or twice. And that's another thing, they're thousand-year-old creatures, why do they keep falling in love with teenage girls who barely know anything about themselves, let alone the world around them? I get it, love conquers all, but seriously?! Ok, rant over.
Despite this slight short-coming I did enjoy the book very much. So much so that I stayed up till 3 in the morning because Ms. Kagawa kept ratcheting up the action and I just couldn't wait to find out what happened next. And when the last page of The Iron King was turned I had to resist to not pick up Iron Daughter and keep reading. A girl's gotta sleep after all.
So these are my impressions of The Iron King. Come back next Sunday for my review of The Iron Daughter!

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