William Shakespeare's faeries from A Midsummer's Night Dream have been popular characters for YA fiction of late. Following Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange and Darklight, The Iron King marks the third book to borrow Puck, Summer King Oberon and Queen Titiana and Winter Queen Mab. Both series also imagine a daughter for King Oberon who discovers her faery heritage and is drawn from the human world into the world of the fey. But that is where the similarities end. The Iron King is a much darker tale.
image On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Meghan Chase is confronted with a scene straight out of Pet Cemetery when she and her mother are attacked by her four year old brother. Her best friend Robbie (aka the famous Puck) saves her and reveals that her brother has been switched with a faery changeling and the only way to get him back is to find the kidnapper in the Nevernever (aka faeryland).
The world of the faery is as terrifying as it is beautiful. In her quest, Meghan is nearly eaten several times, ripped apart by trolls, drowned by nixies, impaled by a prince, raped by a herd of satyrs, and boiled by Goblins. And that's not even half of it. There is nothing sweet and gentle about the fey in this book.
There are a number of amusing characters who aid/impede Meghan along the way, most notably the cait sith Grimilkin (who is straight out of Alice in Wonderland), and the inevitable love interest Ash, youngest son of the Winter Queen and sworn enemy of Puck. The animosity between Puck and Ash along with each one's motivation for helping Meghan was a constant thread of entertainment.
Meghan does a fairly good job of acclimating to the revelations Puck presents her with. She struggles initially with the idea that faeries are real, but she doesn't blindly cling to her former reality either. She adapts and learns, and rarely makes the same mistake twice. Nor does she allow herself to become distracted from saving her brother. I did find some of her dialogue to be somewhat juvenile and her interest in Ash seemed to have little motivation beyond how 'inhumanly beautiful' he was.
I think what I enjoyed the most about The Iron King was the twist on the traditional fey mythology involving iron. I don't want to give anything away so I won't elaborate, but be ready to start counting down the months until August when The Iron Daughter is released as there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending. In the meantime I have a sudden nostalgic desire to watch Labyrinth.
Sexual Content: (YA books receive a more thorough breakdown) Kissing
Meghan Chase's birthday is tomorrow. Sweet sixteen. It rolls off the tongue promising magic, romance and opportunity. It's the age when girls become princesses and go to dances. Sixteen is when a girl is supposed to find true love while the stars shine for her and a handsome prince carries her off into the sunset. All the stories say so. Meghan does find magic on her birthday, but it's nothing like the stories talked about. Instead of … more
I've just spent an enjoyable few days with Julie Kagawa's The Iron King. Her inventive fey (faery) world pulled me right in. It's one of those imagined worlds that has you amazed at the detail and the thought that went in behind it. This book seems to be marketed to girls (from the cover and the fact that it's published by Harlequin Teen), but I think that this book would appeal to young men or women who are interested in fantasy. In fact, there's a good bit of battle, which … more
Don't ask me why, but for some reason I kept putting off reading this book. Maybe it was the fact that it was yet another faery story or maybe it was the weather, or just that I was in a reading slump at the time. I'm not sure what was wrong with me but I am so glad that I finally picked it up when I did. This book was amazing! Ms. Kagawa has created a world riddled with characters that not only have I come to love but who I secretly wish were real. When Meghan's little brother, … more
I was at a breaking point when it came to YA faerie novels. Had enough. But I was pretty resigned to the fact that The Iron King was going to be the BWB YA pick...this book has been pretty popular among the bloggers of late. There is a reason for it's popularity. This is the best YA faerie novel that I have read, hands down. Gripping - check. Tough - check. Scary - check. Emotional - check. Creative - check. The list goes on...Ms. Kagawa you've written yourself quite a fairy tale. REVIEW: … more
Julie Kagawa's The Iron King is the story of Meghan Chase, ordinary girl living with her mom, younger brother, and stepfather on a farm in Louisiana. And of course she feels out of place, not having money for fancy clothes, longing for the hot guy at school, not feeling accepted by her stepfather. Turns out that's only the surface of her troubles, though. Instead of just the awkward teen years, Meghan's issues turn deadly when she discovers that her younger brother has been replaced by a changeling, … more
This was one book I couldn't bring myself to finish. I dove in, with the promise of action once Meghan learned of her true heritage to get me through the slow beginning with a few cliches. But, even after Meghan found herself in the Seelie Court, I felt as if there were a lot of little things going on that didn't really add to the entire plot and served as a distraction from what was really going on in the book. The writing was good, and paranormal fans looking for some mischievous and dangerous … more
Before you go "Oh no, not another faery book," please know that while it sounds similar to other faery books, it's very different. (The character's taken from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream were given makeovers and are so much better.) Meghan was a strong and reckless yet vulnerable and scared girl who would do anything for her younger brother. She went through many things just to recover him. She was a complex character, one that made me … more
I am a 20-something book lover with an obsession for all things urban fantasy. I cut my teeth on the paranormal genre withBuffyandTwilightbefore discoveringPatricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. Suffice … more
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Grade 8 Up—On her 16th birthday, Meghan Chase's four-year-old half brother is exchanged for a changeling and she discovers that her best friend, Robbie, is actually Robin Greenfellow, aka Puck, from Shakespeare'sA Midsummer Night's Dream. He is her guardian and will lead her into the faery world to rescue her brother. Once there, Meghan learns that she is a princess, daughter of Oberon, king of the Seelie Court. With a mortal mother and a faery king for a father, she is very powerful, and Oberon and Queen Mab, queen of the Unseelie Court, are both fighting to keep her. With help from Puck and a talking cat, Meghan sneaks into the Unseelie Court to rescue Ethan, only to discover that he is held captive by more powerful forces that could destroy the entire fey world. Meghan is a likable heroine and her quest is fraught with danger and adventure. The action never stops, and Meghan's romance with Ash, the handsome prince of the Unseelie Court, provides some romance that is sure to continue in the sequel. Faery books are in high demand now, and this is one of the better ones. Expect it to be popular with teens who liked Melissa Marr'sWicked Lovely(HarperTeen, 2007).—Ginny Collier, Dekalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.