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 romance and happily ever after, Meghan finds her four-year-old half-brother replaced by a changling from the Nevernever. With the help of a very familiar fey, Meghan will have to venture into the treacherous world of fairyland to rescue her brother. Her mission will take her to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. It will challenge everything she thought she knew about magic, fairies, and her own past. If Meghan can survive the Nevernever she might be able to save her brother, but there's no escaping the truth in The Iron King (2010) by Julie Kagawa.
The Iron King is the first book in Kagawa's The Iron Fey series.* It joins the ranks of many paranormal romances released for teens, not only by Harlequin Teen.** The blurb from the back of the book is filled with massively huge spoilers. You have been warned.
Kagawa's premise here is really interesting. She blends elements of urban fantasy, traditional fairy lore, and even steampunk in an original way with a lot of potential for a great story with truly exciting characters. But for all that promise, The Iron King never really pulls itself together into a cohesive book.
The story is interesting and will have a lot of appeal for anyone who loves paranormal romances*** and fairies. But, for some readers, the flaws will outweigh the appeal.
Meghan narrates the story in the first person and her voice is very erratic. It's also very repetitive with whole phrases being used verbatim again and again in the story. The descriptions seem to have too many adjectives to qualify things instead of just showing them to the reader.
Meghan herself is also very inconsistent. One minute she is completely believing everything she hears about fairies, the next she doubts the efficacy of fairy glamour. She is constantly told to be careful and follow certain rules and she constantly ignores them. She often contradicts her previous opinions throughout the story.****
The plot and Kagawa's depiction of fairyland is almost enough to let Meghan's inconsistency slide (the landscape of the Nevernever is one of the strongest aspects of the story). Almost. Until you get to the romance aspect of this story.
The Iron King is really thin on romance (like it doesn't come up until halfway through the story thin) and, once again, inconsistent. Meghan's supposed love interest is one dimensional and unconvincing. She keeps talking about how beautiful and sexy he is, but at a certain point you (or me anyway) begin to wonder who Megan is really trying to convince.
That isn't to say The Iron King won't have its fans. Indeed, it already does; this might be the only negative review you see out in the blogosphere. Inconsistencies and annoying aspects aside, The Iron King is reminiscent of Twilight and will find a lot of fans in readers looking for somewhere to go now that they've finished with Bella and Edward.
*I think this is a trilogy but it also might be a longer series and the third book is the only one in the works right now (the first two are already out).
**They published The Iron King if that wasn't clear.
***I'm starting to think I don't and actually just like the more traditional fantasy/urban fantasy tropes. But that's me.
****She also does an old fashioned about face as the story progresses. In the beginning of the novel, Meghan bemoans being poor, saying: "I wish we weren't so poor, I know pig farming isn't the most glamorous of jobs, but you'd think Mom could afford to buy me at least one pair of nice jeans" (page 11). Later, on page 141, Meghan completely contradicts her earlier frustration saying: "My whole life, I had worn ratty jeans and T-shirts. My family was poor and couldn't afford designer clothes and name brands. Rather then bemoan the fact that I never got nice things, I flaunted my grunginess and sneered at the shallow rich girls who spent hours in the bathroom perfecting their makeup." So that sneering would be everywhere except for on page 11 then?
Possible Pairings: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, War For the Oaks by Emma Bull, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by C. S. Lewis, Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
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
[...] 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. … more
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.